Last month the ministry of environment and forests made a decision based on prevention of cruelty to animals act 1960 and henceforth banned the use of live animals for dissection in educational institutes and research work. The guidelines have been issued to organizations like university grants commission, ministry of health and family welfare, pharmacy council of India and the medical council of India to discontinue the practice of animal dissection. However the ban is not absolute and exempts scientists conducting new molecular research. The bone of contention here is the exemption part.
One of the first questions that we ask ourselves is what is new molecular research? Although a scientist could better explain it yet in a layman language molecular research is the research work done at the molecular level that forms the component of our body cell to improve human-life and devise remedies for deadly diseases. In today’s world technology provides near accurate computer simulations of these molecular models as well as the drug’s molecular component. So the question arises why the exemption for molecular scientists. The ministry has guided the educational institutions to use alternatives in the form of CDs, computer simulations and mannequin models, which is a very good thing, but is the exemption to molecular scientists really needed where on molecular level most of the experiments are performed through computer simulations??
The ban looks good on the outside and is a step towards eradicating animal cruelty in the form of experimentation however on the inside it leaves loopholes which could be exploited blatantly. Sadly this is the case with most of the laws in India. The constructive criticism would be that the though ministry thought about animal welfare and did a good job in banning use of live animals for education and research yet it has miles to go before it sleeps !!!