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Welcome to the Department of Biotechnology’s blog

March 10, 2013

This blog and the Department of Biotechnology’s revamping of communication. This unofficial blog by officials of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India is the beginning of our new attempt to communicate, interact and learn from you. The blog is unofficial, simply because it’s a place for debate and discussions rather that for statements of policy and about what is going on at the DBT. Our activities and programmes and how they stand, properly belongs on our website (Department of Biotechnology). Going to this site, you will see that we are caught in a time-warp in content, technology and inactivity. This will change. This change will take place in two phases. First, we will start using the current pages on our website and update content. We will improve our communication right away through this blog, highlight what we are doing through twitter and get your responses through Facebook, twitter and these pages. This will give much-needed relief by opening channels for dialogue and conversations immediately. The second phase of change in our website to make navigation and content organized intuitively and sensibly. This will need a shakeup and will take longer. Your patience and feed back is needed. Have suggestions on what we should do? More important, do you have ideas on how to do things better on our website? Even more important do you want to be involved? No matter what, get back to us with your thoughts, using the ‘comments’ option. In responding to this post, please focus your comments on:

redesigning our web-pages and suggestions for blog topics.

(Comments are moderated, but only to discourage flaming, hate-speech and gratuitous personal attacks. A diversity of views are most welcome and there will be no censorship of opinion.)

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35 Comments
  1. ncbs-ian permalink

    Great stuff, Vijay and everyone! Thrilled about the outreach — good luck with this!

  2. ncbs-ian permalink

    Typography on the current website is terrible. All the items in the menu on the left have different sizes, kerning, sharpness, etc. Extremely awkward! Thanks for looking for feedback.

    • Thanks NCBS-ian. We are developing a new-look (DBT) site and these and other suggestions will be used. Best, Vijay

  3. gaurav permalink

    The call for proposal section is cluttered, it should show only active calls on front page and the expired should go to archive section.

    Online submission for grant proposals would be awesome (like NIH).

    • Dear Gaurav,
      DBT’s ePromis system of online submission of grant proposals has had some hiccups :-)).
      My experience with other agencies is that such hiccups are not *unusual (sorry,I wrote usual earlier, a slip) but that does not help, we need to fix this. We need to sort this out, are doing this with some effort and I do hope we will see changes soon. Importantly, we need to see changes in the way ‘Task Forces’ function, grants are review, funds released etc. These too are being addressed and a post on this matter will address how we are doing this.

  4. Shailja Vaidya Gupta permalink

    Moving towards 21 century finally, looks great

  5. Auli Pere permalink

    This looks great! Making web pages work ideally is so very challenging. Among others, I would like to find links to interesting Indian biotech news and up-to-date information about events.

  6. Great start. Please let us know if we can help DBT in any way. We will flourish if DBT prospers.

  7. Really happy to see this. One place where we young researchers can put our views. More heartening is fast replies from Prof. Vijayraghavan.
    As you have already suggested I also think it is really important to give a facelift to the grant submission site where updates of review process and submission of UC/progress reports are also posted/uploaded. Timely release of money will help a lot to us. A good model for submission site may be DBT-Wellcome site. It will good if reviews are done on time and reviews/comments on grants are sent to PIs to improve the proposals.
    Thanks a lot for this effort

  8. Dear Neel
    Thanks for your comment. We are working hard to make these fixes and are using the WT-DBT site as a model! Details on what we are doing and the timelines soon. Cheers, Vijay

  9. We understand that it will take some time for the DBT website to be functional for grant/annual report/UC-SE submission. In the meantime, is it possible to do the following?
    At the same time we send the hard copy by SPEEDPOST we also send a soft copy by email. The email is acknowledged. We follow-up in a month’s time and the handling officer provides us with a update. In absence of an acknowledgement system we have no idea if DBT has received the document and what action is being taken on it.
    Alternatively, there can be an Excel spreadsheet where all such communications and the subsequent progress are documented (and updated regularly) and we can see it when we go to the DBT website.

  10. Thanks Amithabha
    We are working on this. I expect that we will have this sort of intermin measure in place soon
    Best
    Vijay

  11. Siluvainathan, CFTRI permalink

    DBT’s programmes are really good and mostly unique. Programmes related to R&D Project Management (Biotech projects) will be greatly useful if organised or funded.

  12. krish permalink

    The prinouts that is generated after online submission through ePROMIS looks different than how it is entered. The Investigators panic seeing that as they need to submit the hard copy of the same.
    The DBT technical person was helpful in saying that aesthetics is not a problem.
    But, it would be a great releif for the Investigators if DBT improves this and/or gives input in the user guide.
    The PDF version : Data shift occurs leaving portion of the pages blank
    Entries in the budget appears not in one line
    Link for the uploaded quotation PDF appears over the entries.
    The format itself looks different that how it is entered.
    Kindly inform the Investigators not to panic if Data appears Scrambled till this issue is resolved.
    Another issue is the number of hard copy requirement:
    The website says atleast 5 copies. The word atleast is confusing. It would be great it gives a definite number of hard copy requirement for initial submission.
    Thank You

    • Thanks much krish. We are working to remove the glitches in ePromis and are nearly there. I am forwarding you feedback to the team,
      Cheers
      Vijay

  13. Venkat Ramachandran permalink

    its great to have someone like you at the helm of affairs at the dbt! i wonder what it is about the websites of indian institutions and departments that falls short of their western counterparts. for example, i am comparing the wt-dbt (http://www.wellcomedbt.org/) versus the nih (http://www.nih.gov/). i must admit that the wt-dbt website is one of the better ones in the indian context, but still something of the aesthetic is missing. is it just our indian eye for such things? perhaps we should recruit artists/product designers to have an input on such matters? (just a thought).

    i sincerely wish that there will be an overhaul of the virtual space occupied by indian organizations in the near future. hopefully, a culture of aesthetic and crispness will be incorporated in all spheres of activity – from the science to the campuses to the websites.

    wish you godspeed with the dbt efforts!

    • Thanks Venkat. Our communication efforts and performance are abysmal, across the country. We will revamp the DBT site though, though its squeezing water from rock 🙂
      Some places are not bad,but even these are poorly updated. The NIH site is very good as is the Wellcome Trust’s in London. Much to learn from and act
      Cheers
      Vijay

      • Venkat Ramachandran permalink

        thanks for your quick reply vijay. what do you think is the solution for this? do you think that just better trained scientific communicators will change the situation? imho, there is a much more deep rooted malady – a lack of professionalism and perfectionism in all spheres of activity.

        well, it will probably turn into a long winded philosophical outpouring. after the dbt, i hope you can move on to much bigger challenges (scientific adviser to the pm or some such) and create an even larger-scale impact on indian science.

      • Dear Venkat
        Our investment has been suboptimal, our investment in training in communication even more so, and our demands on ourselves to communicate well have been abysmal. But this merely states the problem. We must set ourselves tractable goals, for each quarter, in establishing communication processes and implementing them. DBTwill try to push this agenda while working to practice what it preaches 🙂
        Cheers
        Vijay

  14. Venkat Ramachandran permalink

    a follow up thought – perhaps you can also incorporate this blog into the new website. it somehow strikes me as more polished to run such a website from your own server (i.e. the dbt server) rather than using a wordpress service which can be used by anyone in the world. i guess the idea i am getting at is exclusivity, which the western institutes are very good at creating. if it is exclusive, it is fancy, it is good. these are all gimmicks i must admit, but necessary (and potentially useful) ones in the long run methinks.

  15. Venkat Ramachandran permalink

    finally, can you also convince the folks at the dst to change their website? and perhaps also the other ministries and the universities and csir and …..

    🙂 🙂

  16. Dear Vijay,
    I recently submitted a grant proposal to the NIH recently. Inspite of all the issues that people have listed out, the DBT protocol for submitting grants is a lot more straightforward!
    best
    Deepak

  17. Venkat Ramachandram permalink

    is the progress of biotechnology research in india so slow that updates on the blog post happen only once every 2 months on average!

    one way to generate activity is to keep this blog going strong. a potential idea is to integrate it with the indiabioscience.org effort.

    • Good tminng Venkat! We’ve been working on several posts and also busy working on structural changes to transform our communications. The latter will take a bIt longer. But look out for a steady stream of posts from now withe help from a new communications editor, who I hope to be able to formally introduce soon.

      • Venkat Ramachandran permalink

        Dear Vijay,

        In relation to your comment above, you may find this effort (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/blogs/blogs-the-copernican/) by the newspaper The Hindu interesting. More in a recent blogpost there (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/blogs/blogs-the-copernican/article5012726.ece)

        Please take particular note of the suggestion to start something like an Indian Science Media Centre to take lead on science communication and related issues in India.

      • Thanks for this Venkat. There is an initiative afoot by a band of science journalists to establish just this: a science media centre. I have had a couple of discussions on this myself and the challenge is how to have government support but have the government at arm’s length and more. There are established models But the details need to be sorted out.
        Cheers
        Vijay

  18. Anil kumar permalink

    Dear Dr. Vijay Raghavan
    A sincere request for you about ePROMISE. This web portal for submitting research proposal is pathetic. The otherside, DBT-Wellcome Trust has an excellent portal to serve the same purpose.
    Please help us by taking necessary action.
    Pardon me for the liberty I am talking to write to you.
    Thank you

  19. It would be very nice to have all people pictures captioned with names. Good for people who read a story, and even better for those who figure. And it will be very nice to have pictures of everyone named.

    Could we please have a comic-strip section for people like me who know hardly any biology or biotechnology? Just a little three panel affair explaining the word “serotype,” for example, would be nice.

    This is an excellent initiative. Wonderful! All the very best.

  20. Neeloo Sigh permalink

    I find no change in communication with DBT since this blog started in March, two most troublesome areas to handle are the ePROMIS which still has all obsolete data of PIs and utter lack of communication between DBT staff and PIs

    • Dear Neeloo
      Thanks for your comments. Can you please check the ePromis site again. We have removed most of the bugs but your feedback will be useful. About communication between DBT staff and PIs please can you give me a couple of instances where you have had problems? Please mail me at vijay.dbt@nic.in
      This will help us improve.
      Thanks for your time and best wishes for 2014
      Vijay

  21. Dear Neeloo
    My apologies for bothering you again, but I will be mist grateful for your feedback on the current ePromis site. Also, please dont hesitate to let me know when your communications with officers go unanswered: My colleagues and I will work to sort this out. Regards
    Vijay

    • neeloo888@yahoo.com permalink

      sure, no problem at all, Dr Raghavan, I will go through tomorrow once again and keep you posted

  22. Jennifer N permalink

    Feels good to find this blog. Feels like we are no longer talking to a wall (the govt and bureaucracy). Thank you.

  23. Sree permalink

    Today is the last day to submit BioCare proposal and the server is down. Please look into the matter.

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