Innumerable private and public institutions joined the bandwagon resulting in mushrooming of biotechnology courses in every city and small town of the country...Given the high population pressure and scant job opportunities, the younger generation and their parents have been easy prey to the belief that, like the information technology, biotechnology will provide a highly remunerative career. In this mad rush, a large number of young students pay whopping amounts as fees to receive, in return, a worthless certificate giving them B Sc/ B Tech or M Sc/ M Tech degree in biotechnology.... It is high time that all school and undergraduate stand-alone teaching programmes in biotechnology bioinformatics, etc. are stopped.
Considering the tenor of the above article, I was eagerly awaiting a rebuttal. However, another article appeared in this issue of Current Science that said "The ‘Opinion’ by Lakhotia minus its pessimism is largely acceptable" and goes on to analyze why these biotechnology courses failed.
I was interested as to how the top students joining the undergraduate degree perceive the programs in biotechnology. With this objective in mind, I looked at the evolution of closing ranks in JEE and AIEEE from 2003 to 2008. There was a considerable drop in the closing ranks for Bio Technology programs of IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and the BTech program in Bio Science and Bio Engineering at IIT Kanpur. In 2003, the closing ranks were in the range of 1000-1500 and now it is in the range of 2000-2500 for these branches in these IITs. It is even worse in IIT-G and IIT-R, wherein civil engineering is now closing higher than that of biotechnology. Thus, if you have the word Bio attached to engineering, science or technology, it seems to be no longer the favorite among the top engineering aspirants of India.