India has a booming biotechnology sector with an estimated growth of more than $300 Billion by 2030. Biotechnology has played a crucial role in the development of the Indian medicine industry. In 2006, India signed an agreement with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for addressing the need to move fast in the field of biotechnology. As an outcome of this agreement, the First Regional Centre for Biotechnology in Faridabad, Haryana, was set up through an executive order in 2009. The Regional Centre is affiliated with UNESCO and functions under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
The regional centre also received legislative backing in 2016 with the passing of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act, 2016. The Act was enacted on 1st March 2017. The Act recognised the regional centre for Biotechnology as ‘An institute of National Importance’ and aimed to provide a concrete legal framework for the regional centre and also defined its roles, powers, and functions.
Objectives of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology
- The primary objective of the regional centre is to provide knowledge through teaching, training, and research in biotechnology and related fields. The centre provides full-time degrees and other training courses to satisfy this objective.
- The regional centre is responsible for the development of the biotechnology sector in India.
- The regional centre has to provide opportunities for multi-disciplinary education and training in biotechnology at an affordable rate.
- The regional centres also provide a platform for technology and knowledge transfer in the SAARC region and Asia.
- The regional centre is responsible for creating a biotechnology expertise hub that facilitates knowledge sharing amongst experts in this field.
- The regional centre has to organise national and international conferences and discussions to encourage and strengthen regional and international cooperation.
Functions of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology
- Building infrastructure and technology platforms is critical for biotechnology education and training.
- Undertake educational and training activities.
- Conduct research and scientific investigation in collaboration with other research centres.
- Collect and disseminate local knowledge with other regional centres.
- Frame policies for the protection of the Intellectual Property Rights of all stakeholders.
- Publish books and articles sharing the outcome of various research activities.
- Collaborate at the National, Regional, and International level for research and development in the field of Biotechnology.
- Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC) also functions under the regional centre for biotechnology.
Powers of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology
Grant of Degree
The Centre is empowered to grant master’s degrees, post-graduate diplomas and doctoral degrees in biotechnology and related subjects, such as biology, medical science, and engineering. It can confer honorary degrees and distinctions.
The Centre provides short and long-term training courses in biotechnology and related areas.
The centre can grant recognition to a higher education institute in the field of biotechnology and can also withdraw such recognition for any violation.
The centre can create academic positions such as professorships, associate professorships and can make appointments for the same.
Develop Research Infrastructure
The centre is required to establish specialised laboratories and other research facilities within and outside India.
Financial aid and awards
The centre has to create provisions for financial aid for students including fellowships and scholarships. Furthermore, they should provide for medals and prizes to be awarded.
The centre must collaborate with industries, other institutes, and organisations both within and outside India by entering into agreements for research and advisory services.
The centre has to decide the admission standards such as the examination process, evaluation. They can also fix and receive fees and other charges.
The centre can implement necessary disciplinary measures to ensure discipline among students and employees.
The centre can either acquire or dispose of any moveable or immovable property including trust and endowment properties for its purpose. This power is subjected to the approval of the Government of India.
Authorities of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology
Under Section 13 of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act, 2016, the following authorities oversee the regional centre for biotechnology.
- Board of Governors
- Programme Advisory Committee
- Executive Committee
- Finance Committee
- Board of Studies
Board of Governors
The Board of Governors is the apex body of the Regional Centre and is responsible for the overall governance at the Centre. It consists of the following members:
- A Chairman who is also the Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Science and Technology Ministry.
- Three eminent scientists nominated as members by the Government of India. One such member should be a woman.
- One representative of the Director General of UNESCO.
- Two representatives from UNESCO member states who have contributed to the Regional Centre.
The Board has the following powers under Section 15 of the Act:
- Approval of Annual plans and Budget of the centre
- Periodical review of policies and programmes and suggestions for improvements
- Approval of organisational structure and internal procedures of the centre
- Convene sessions with members and representatives of international organisations and other countries for wider consultation
- Increase funds for the Centre.
Programme Advisory Committee
The committee is the principal academic body of the Centre. It consists of the following members:
- A Chairman, nominated by the Board of Governors
- Two members nominated by UNESCO
- Three members nominated by members states of UNESCO
- Two members nominated by the Government Of India having expertise in biotechnology policy and legal matters
- Six members are nominated by the Board of Governors and are renowned scientists or academicians.
- The Executive Director is the Member-Secretary of the Committee.
The responsibilities of the Programme Advisory Committee include the following:
- Recommend plans for education, training, and research activities.
- Recommend modification education, training, and research programmes.
- Annual review of programmes at the Centre and submission of reports.
- Publication of reports on scientific and technical issues.
The committee is entrusted with the responsibility of implementing policies and decisions by the Board of Governors. The board can further decide upon other functions of the committee.
The committee has to review finances, prepare annual budgetary estimates and submit audit reports to the Board of Governors. Other functions and powers may be conferred on the committee by way of statute.
Board of Studies
The roles and responsibilities of the Board of Studies can be decided by the Board of Governors through statute.
Funds of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology
The Regional Centre has the power to maintain funds to meet its expenses, which may include day-to-day expenses, salaries of employees, among others.
Sources of Funds
- Money received from the Government of India
- Proceeds from fees and other charges
- Money received by way of gifts, donations, grants, among others.
- Other sources
Utilisation of Funds
- Fees and allowances paid to Chairman, Board members, etc.
- Salaries and allowances paid to employees and other staff.
- Other expenses.
Powers to Remove Difficulties
Section 46 of the Act, gives power to the Central government to pass an order to remove difficulties in effective enforcement of the Act. It also requires the Government to table such orders in each house of parliament as soon as possible.
The regional centre for Biotechnology is an institute of great significance, not just scientifically but also economically. Had it not been a resilient biotechnology infrastructure, we would probably be still struggling with the COVD-19 outbreak. Therefore, its importance cannot be undermined. The Regional Centre for Biotechnology is entrusted with the responsibility of the development of the biotechnology sector in India. The regional centre provides education and training for broadening the base of the sector in India and engages in research and data sharing via collaboration with national and international organisations. This enables improved cooperation and technology transfer among these institutes.
The Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act of 2016 has strengthened the institutional framework, provided a superior legal framework, and enabled smooth functioning of the regional centre.
FAQs on the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act
What is the mandate of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act, 2016?
The Act aims to facilitate the establishment of a Regional Centre for Biotechnology for research and development in the field of Biotechnology. It is essentially an academic institute.
Can the Regional Centre grant academic degrees?
Under Section 10(1) (a) of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act, the regional centre can grant master's and doctoral degrees. It can also grant honorary degrees and distinctions under Section 10(1) (d).
Is the Regional Centre for Biotechnology a government institute?
The regional centre is a government institute established by the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Act, 2016 and functions under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, GOI.
What are the sources of the fund for the regional centre?
The sources of funds include government grants, receipts of fees, donations, and gifts.