Like other branches of physical and life sciences, analytical chemistry has developed tremendously in recent years. No experimental chemical science can avoid analytical chemistry today since it strongly contributes to the achievements and progress of these sciences.
“Modern analytical chemistry is defined as a science that develops and applies methods, instruments, and strategies to obtain information on the composition and nature of matter in space and time.” Modern analytical chemistry essentially is a multidisciplinary subject encompassing all the branches of chemistry, physics, electronics, engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, automation, robotics and metrology etc
Analytical chemistry plays a critical role in the understanding of basic sciences and variety of practical applications ranging from organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, geology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biomedical applications, environmental monitoring, quality control of industrial manufacturing, forensic science, archaeology, space science, genomics, DNA technology, metabolomics, space science and nanotechnology etc.
Miniaturized analytical instrumentation systems based on the concepts of chip technology such as ‘lab on chips' are revolutionizing the analytical chemistry from macro to micro, sub micro, ultra micro, single molecules and single cell level.
In the west almost every university has graduate, post graduate and doctoral programmes in analytical chemistry, which are well established. Strangely enough it appears that India is oblivious to the developments in analytical chemistry. This is evident from the fact that in most of Indian universities full fledged analytical chemistry courses and programmes are not there. At graduate and post graduate level the syllabus pertaining to analytical chemistry is rudimentary, is not reviewed and updated. Most of the syllabi cover conventional and traditional methods of analysis neglecting the instrumental analysis. At the post graduate level the students do not get an opportunity to use the analytical instruments. Most of the Ph. D. students who have to essentially utilize analytical methods learn the techniques superficially on the job.
It is estimated that at least 30 per cent non analytical chemists end up in jobs related to analytical chemistry. For this purpose the curriculum and education programs in analytical chemistry at universities should be considerably reviewed, rearranged and improved giving due importance to analytical chemistry which it deserves. Hence there is a strong need to start full fledged analytical chemistry programmes.
Because of the heavy cost of instrumentation, their maintenance, non availability of well qualified teachers and due to poor awareness of the academia with regard to the latest developments, the courses in analytical chemistry are not being favoured. Naturally all these need good amount of funding from the UGC and other agencies.
Even though India has made tremendous progress in other areas of technology it has not been able to develop indigenous analytical instrumentation technology and contribute significantly in the analytical research.
Evidently planners and administrators in the Ministry of Human Resources, and other agencies have not considered the development of competitive indigenous analytical instrumentation technology on priority which it deserves. The National Commission on Higher Education and Research which is being envisaged by the Union Ministry of Human Resources should consider the development of analytical chemistry and analytical instrumentation technology in the universities and institutions of higher learning through out the country in right perspective on priority basis.
Director (Retd.), Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad