Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Biotechnology Pride now in the Savannah By Tanya Narahari

Yes, it is time these cubs terminated a career hunting beetles and returned to their roots. The primary food chain has just reached an ideal ecological statistic to permit reunion of the nation's staggering population of Biotechnologists (as engineers) with their Pride of yore.

And it's not just about portly and brassy old opportunity; it's the choice in the face of opportunity's reclusive habits when it comes to Biotechnology. Most of us this year have been loyal in our choices, thus far. Some of us, for instance have declined generous 'job' offers, knowing that all that glitters is not Biotechnology! And while this may be a well-proven fact for the countless other disciplines of the glittering kind, it certainly is a matter noteworthy in our case.

In the course of four years, (the first being fraught with ridicule at belonging in 'Biotech' and concomitant identity crises in an engineering college) we are probably the only department that studies every subject under the blue sky: progeny, ancestors and even remote cousins of Biotechnology in warm familial bonding.

While this condition is aptly described by the title that we presently bear as 'Jacks of all Trades (and the remaining is unmentionable)', we have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, because being Jacks of all trades is indeed a blessing.

Need I elucidate? We know where to go next for fresh hunting ground. Whilst this statement might inspire a vociferous resistance from most of you, think again. Here is the meat:

Biotechnology spans several disciplines including food technology, agriculture, medicine and environmental conservation. No graduate of this field may be tagged a 'biotechnologist' and seek work in the 'biotechnology industry' but must keep her eyes peeled and ears perked for pockets of opportunity in these sub-disciplines. Alongside the listings a four-year engineering course offers a scoop of each for a student to pick for further education or for a career start in the industry.

If the devil's advocate were to interject at this point, he might say the wind is blowing every which way. Would our cubs then lose themselves as they gambol in it? The defense lays in this: that direction is gleaned from experience and for many the four years of engineering are quite prophetic. Just as in any other field, channels open up as you move on and get more centered on your specific area of interest.

A student may be proffered some guidance by periodicals that talk of the industry, new products and new firms. Doing short-term internships and projects in the industry also ups the odds of being absorbed into these firms. While this may be a universal engineering paradigm, it does affect the prospects of a biotechnology graduate like no other.

India in itself is a nexus of multiple fields, and products of valuable service might be easier to take to her rustic backyard.

This is evidenced by the fact that our government, namely DBT, New Delhi, and several sub committees offer industrial training programs and richly funded research projects that can give us better reach, and make resumes tastier to the recruiter.

While the downside is that the paycheck is just medium-small in the beginning, it grows with you, and growth in this industry is quick and respectable. If one is working in the Biomedical field, for instance, in the private sector like I am, and developing a diagnostic device that could hit the market in the next two years or so, not only has one the satisfaction of having created a high impact product but also of having done something original and of service to humanity. And it doesn't end there!

The Savannah is wide open.

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