Will the University Grants Commission guidelines curbing animal dissections by undergraduate biology students take the edge off Indian students in the international arena?
Many professors certainly think so.
After all, what is a zoologist who has never touched an animal?
As Kambadur Muralidhar, a professor of zoology at the University of Delhi and former head of a UGC panel tells The Telegraph: “It is embarrassing — the choice of practical exercises has become severely limited, faculty are now wondering how to conduct practical exams.”
According to The Telegraph report several colleges across the country have stopped animal dissections in their labs, first under pressure from animal rights activists and now the UGC.
The colleges cite difficulty in procuring even cockroaches for dissection, amid fears of abuse and violence by animal rights activists.
“This will ruin life sciences education in India,” said Nirmal Lohiya, professor emeritus at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. “It’s in the undergraduate classes that students have to learn how to anaesthetise the animal, how to operate and how to handle animals with necessary care.”
However not everyone feels this way.
Some professors told The Telegraph they believe that India should follow the changed international focus of Life sciences, which has shifted away from animals to cells and genes in research. Therefore they feel that observing animals in different environment should be the focus, rather than dissections.
And the debate rages on.
As one senior biologist, who requested anonymity, puts it: “We need to set our own house in order. Many animal houses in academic institutions are just dungeons, this has to change. Without nation-wide improvements in how we handle animals, this dispute isn’t going to go away.”
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Updated Date: Nov 20, 2012 10:40:10 IST