India’s largest producers of gram -- Punjab and Haryana -- could no longer cultivate the crop due to degradation of soil because of excessive use of chemicals, Uttar Pradesh’s state capital came to the country’s rescue. Bio- inoculants, a patented technology produced within the laboratories of National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) produced dramatic results both for the growth of the plants and soil. Today, NBRI (www.nbri.res.in) has not only offered path breaking technological support for growing gram, but it is also a leader in transgenic cotton, enriched microbes for ushering organic cultivation, conserving biodiversity, biofuel crops and managing wastelands for optimizing crops.
Uttar Pradesh’s biotechnological achievements are not limited to the research work done by NBRI. For decades, the state has been an important centre of education, with well-respected universities like Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in its midst. Both institutions are well-known for teaching medicine and engineering; BHU, to this day, continues to be ranked among the best universities in India (according to a recent survey of India Today magazine). The tradition of excellence continues well beyond these universities. Lucknow, for instance, is regarded as a B-class town in terms of urbanization. On the biotechnology front, though, the city is next only to Bangalore and Hyderabad. After all, which other city can boast of being home to centers-of-excellence like Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) and Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research (IISR), National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR) and Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), to name just a few.
Many drugs that India calls its own have been produced, right here on UP soil, at CDRI’s (www.cdriindia.org) own laboratories. Some examples are Centchroman (a contraceptive), Centbucridine (a new anaesthetic), Arteether and Bulaquin (both anti-malarial drugs) and so on. That’s not all. CDRI’s Gugulipid (a drug that keeps cholesterol levels under control) and Memory Sure have changed the paradigm of how Ayurvedic recipes can find place in modern medicine. There is no institute that can match CDRI’s fundamental research, while developing products that have done the nation proud.
Giant strides have been made not only in the area of drug research, but also in other areas. CIMAP has made India a Mentha country with its new varieties, aggressive technology translation and proactive rural participation to bring acres-on-acres under Mentha cultivation. That’s not all that CIMAP has given India; with Artemsin (from Artemisia annua) it will also help wipe off malaria from developing countries. In this, CDRI and CIMAP have worked together to develop the anti-malarial drug.
UP is a leader in the areas of toxicology to sugarcane research as well. IITR (earlier ITRC) (www.iitrindia.org), the only institute of Toxicology in the country had always shouldered the responsibility when India has been faced with environmental health challenges. Be it the Bhopal Gas tragedy, shortage of drinking water after floods in Orissa or outbreak of dropsy due to consumption of mustard oil adulterated with argemone oil in Delhi; through its research, IITR developed techniques for monitoring of water quality and its disinfection. With it’s path-breaking research, IITR continues to be an institute of repute in the field of toxicology research, training and testing.
Likewise, Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research (www.iisr.nic.in) has played an important role in the development of new varieties of sugarcane and their propagation. The Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) (www.cishlko.org) is well known for its mango research and introduction of new varieties of mango. SGPGI. (www.sgpgi.ac.in) a super specialty hospital and CSSMU (www.kgmcindia.edu) (earlier KGMC) are centres of excellence in biomedical sciences and healthcare. In a similar vein, the famous Lucknow University has been a seat of learning and human resource.
In view of the above, the city was rightly declared as “Biotechnology City” on January 3, 2002 during the 89th Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress held at Lucknow. With rapid infrastructure development, Lucknow is fast growing into a metro city. With several universities and colleges coming up in the private sector, the City is bound to become an important biotechnology hub in the Northern parts.