NEW DELHI: COVID-19 has shifted the focus to biotech and genetic interventions, and this offers an appropriate opportunity to work on strategic research outcomes which are specifically India-centric, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has said.
Addressing scientists and officials of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in his first review meeting on Friday after taking charge as the science and technology minister, Singh said India has huge resource material for research.
It can offer the world exclusive preventive and therapeutic options, particularly considering the fact that Indian phenotype and genotype are different from the rest of the world, he said.
As a result, both epidemiology as well as the clinical course of diseases, including the currently prevalent infections due to coronavirus or the mutant viruses, could be different and therefore, the country's researchers and scientists also owe responsibility to provide Indian remedies for the Indian patient, Singh pointed out.
"COVID-19 has shifted focus to biotech and genetic interventions and this offers an appropriate opportunity for us to work on strategic research outcomes which are specifically India-centric, and can provide answers to a number of questions posed by the contemporary health scenario," he said.
The minister emphasised that Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes a personal interest in scientific and technology related programmes.
This offers a great support and patronage for the entire fraternity, he said.
Singh called upon the biotechnologists to identify at least two exclusive projects which can be researched, and completed with definite conclusions and results around the 75th Independence anniversary of India in 2022.
"If we succeed in doing so, he said, we will not only be able to showcase the superlative talents of Indian scientists but would also succeed in coming out with research findings which can be exclusively hailed and published across the world as an Indian discovery for mankind during its most testing times," he said.
Referring to the huge potential in the field of biotechnology, Singh said somehow this has not been optimally utilised.
However, he said, now is the time to give a special push and put it on the fast track.
The minister asked the DBT to explore the feasibility of conducting joint projects with premier medical institutions like AIIMS and at the same time also engage the industry, private players and young start-ups in these projects.
Singh particularly emphasised the need to reinforce the infrastructural strength by cutting down the number of autonomous bodies functioning in the DBT or try to merge two or more in order to make them more focused and oriented.
He said the time has come for the DBT to emerge as a service-provider for the common citizens and contribute in "ease of living" and "ease of health".
The minister also underscored the need to curtail all kinds of wasteful expenditure.