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Doctoring the experiments now?

Deccan Herald, New Delhi, 7th May, 2013

So, now how about a doctor in your neighbourhood who has never done any practicals but still holds the degree to cure your diseases? Or how about a surgeon who has never done any practicals during his course before he puts you under the knife? Sounds scary, right? But, this might just turn out be true!

According to a latest notice by Delhi government sent to schools and colleges, they will now have to give up experimenting on animal specimens in their labs. Delhi government’s department of forests and wildlife issued a notice asking all government as well as private schools and colleges to declare the kind of specimens and wildlife trophies that are preserved by them. According to the notice, they should be put under lock and key and not used anymore!

The order came after the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau notified that educational institutions should surrender specimens listed under Wildlife Protection Act. However, teachers are miffed as they insist it will affect the study of biology and zoology.
“These decisions are made without thinking and have no ethical value. Nobody spoke to us before taking this decision. For what purpose are they doing this? How on earth are practicals possible without animals and how one can one learn from the softwares made by private companies?” fumed a professor of zoology at Delhi University, who did not wish to be named.

So, are we going to have zoologists who have never even touched an animal during their course? “This is not a wise decision. We do follow the guidelines and there are no endangered species in our labs. And what is the harm is using those animals whose breeding is being done in our labs? These softwares are just an aid and not primary tools. How can practicals be done without animals or specimens?” says M M Chaturvedi, a zoology professor in Delhi University, making a valid point.

It take lakhs of rupees and years of research to preserve animals in laboratories of schools and colleges. But now this decision will definitely hinder the learning process of the students. Though dissection has been completely done away with at both school and college level, many educational institutions have preserved specimens in their laboratories for students to get familiar with animals.

Another biology teacher of a public school, Manisha Khanna too condemns the notice. “I don’t understand what they are trying to do with the education system. Everyday there is a new reform being made and now this. It is just not possible to conduct practicals without specimens. Imagine students becoming doctor by learning from softwares?” Can the virtual world ever replace reality and have the concerned authorities lost their vision altogether?