The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has approved the proposal for inclusion of biotechnology as an eligible subject for the common pre-medical entrance test. The subject is expected to be included in the entrance examination from the next academic year.

The Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) had approached the Ministry with the recommendation. The MCI will now have to amend its regulations to include biotechnology as an eligible subject for those seeking to enter the field of medicine following which the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will notify the eligibility.

The CBSE introduced biotechnology as a subject for Class 12 courses in 2005 and there seemed many takers at that time with the peak enrolment touching 7,000 students. However, soon interest waned with only 4,000-odd students opting for biotechnology as a subject.

The CBSE had written to the previous regime of the MCI several times over the proposal but there was no or little response. But, the Board of Governors did show enthusiasm and pursued the matter with the Ministry for a formal approval.

Biotechnology was included as a subject at the plus-two stage by the Indian School Certificate-affiliated institutions also. These come under the purview of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE). Some State boards, too, are said to have shown interest in biotechnology as a subject at the under-graduate level.

The CBSE conducts the common entrance test for 15,000 MBBS seats of a total of 32,000 seats every year. Examinations for the other seats are conducted by State governments and some private colleges conduct their own entrance exams.

Reviving interest

Students apparently lost interest in biotechnology as it did not make them eligible to write the MBBS entrance tests. However, with the inclusion of biotechnology in the eligibility test, it is believed the interest would pick up again. This would also give the students an opportunity to opt for related post graduation courses in case they did not qualify for the MBBS. As of now, physics, chemistry and biology are the only subjects necessary for writing the entrance test for the MBBS.

Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Modern use of similar term includes genetic engineering as well as cell and tissue culture technologies.