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A Research-Based Career In Nano-Biotechnology In Agriculture Will Open New prospects

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Agriculture in India is the most crucial sector for ensuring food and national security as well as sustainable development. And, India has achieved remarkable growth owing to the formalization of education and research in the field of agriculture. However, to meet the emerging needs, more professionals will be required in the offing along with quality and research-driven education institutions in the field.

Around 15,000 graduates, 11,000 masters and 2500 PhD professionals in agriculture are added every year, according to a report. There is, however, a scarcity of nearly 30,000 professionals in the field as against 65,000 required.

Owing to continuous progression in the agriculture sector, career opportunities are also evolving. Nanotechnology-based agricultural products would pave the way for innovation going forward. However, making these kinds of innovative agricultural products and machines require in-depth research & development with the participation of young minds. Besides, collaborative efforts between institutions and the exchange of knowledge across countries can bring a great change.

Reflecting her views on the need for research in agriculture, Ms Ravneet Pawha, Deakin University, said, “Research is a quintessential first step in developing a new product. It leads to innovation and development of systematic knowledge on any issue. In today’s fast-paced world, research provides a cutting edge to the companies actively engaged in it.”

“Our internationally recognised research is concentrated on the most important global challenges. Researchers at Deakin University work across disciplines affecting the breadth of society, in areas such as digital health, advanced manufacturing, materials or artificial intelligence, through to sustainable development, social sciences, arts, education, business and law. Our focus is on the innovative translation of world-class research to real business and community problems and opportunities”, she added.

International exposure for research students in agriculture and technology

International exposure means wider reach to the researchers, access to equipment, labs and ideas, experience in sharing and knowledge transfer not just for the aspirants of the field, but for respective institutions’ growth as well.

While sharing her experience as a research student from PhD days, Dr Shivani Srivastava, a Research Associate said, “During my PhD days working with Australian supervisors at Deakin University, Australia I was fortunate enough to work in the Quarantine Facility Lab at La-Trobe University. Also, the University had a collaboration with a Chemistry group at the University of Western SydneyThese international exposures helped refine my outlook and I got to know what is required at a global scale that ultimately helped me grow in my field together with the world.”

“International exposure is very important for young researchers for motivation, personality building and to build confidence and trust in the work that the researchers conduct,” shared Shalini Vasan, a PhD student at TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre.

International collaborations have gained popularity in the last few years owing to the greater access to funding, building bilateral and multilateral relations between institutions and nations and promoting sustainable development. Through these collaborations, various global issues are being addressed and worked in conjunction for solutions.

Expressing her views, Dr Srivastava said, “Collaborations bring nations together by dealing with scientific problems collectively. I strongly believe that India, with the second-largest population, requires a solution for sustainable agriculture, water management, renewable energy needs, etc. Similarly, Australia being a developed country, faces serious issues in a wildfire due to climatic conditions and reaching out to different experts for solutions to help preserve vegetation and related sources. Since both countries understand each-others’ requirement, the collaboration between nations that are facing similar problems requires similar scientific solutions and if it is worked together in the right direction, it can immensely help build both nations in the required direction for development.“

Seemingly, connecting, sharing and innovating is need of the hour to combat global problems, be it finding a solution to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic or any other common issues like crop cultivation for food etc.

“Deakin University’s Research and innovation in India is driven towards impact to the local communities: those which address real issues like Health and Wellbeing, Smart Technology, Sustainable Environment and Advancing Society and Culture. We test, refine and develop technologically advanced, sustainable, affordable, and long-term solutions to problems of health care, education, energy, environment, and food security, to name a few issues”, said Pawha.

She further added citing an example, “Over the last two decades, Deakin has established collaborations with various organisations and academic institutions in critical areas of importance, like agriculture and environment, in particular, our association with TERI through the jointly established TERI Deakin NanoBiotechnology Centre (TDNBC), which involves a bevy of top minds, world-class facilities and international networks to address the issue of food security and water availability through nanotechnology in agriculture.”

Future prospects

“The world’s population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. With the growing need for becoming a self-reliant and self-sufficient country, we need more and more technology-based innovations in the field of agriculture and thus, the need for professionals too,” said Dr Alok Adholeya, Director, TDNBC.

Nanotechnology is an emerging tool to improve the productivity of crop and has the capability to coup-up from present agricultural issues.

Dr Adholeya added, “The producing nanomaterials have several properties like slow-release action, target action at active sites and high surface area etc. And due to this, nanotechnology can be applied in various fields including agriculture, food and processing industry and in precision farming. Use of nanosensors, nano herbicides, nano pesticides has the potential to improve the efficiency of the overall plant.”

Nanobiotechnology has a huge scope in the upcoming generations. It is the third-highest booming field when compared with IT and the Internet. The Indian government has already started Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology initiatives.

Since nanobiotechnology is a special branch that essentially combines physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and technology, it is opening up job prospects for students specializing in all the mentioned subjects. The career opportunities in the fields of Nanoscale science and technology are expanding rapidly, as these fields have an increasing impact on many aspects of our daily lives.

Indian industry has focused on nanomaterials and many scientific institutions have started research and development activities in the field. The CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) has set up 38 laboratories, across the country, to carry out research and development work in this field. Those with PhD in Nanotechnology will have vibrant opportunities in the Research & Development sectors. Candidates with PhD can also join as faculty members in Universities and colleges or research fields.

The remuneration at initial level could start from INR 40,000/- on a monthly basis. While in later stages of career, it can reach up to INR 1- 2 lakh per month.

 

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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