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To dissect or not, RU says no

- Students unhappy over UGC directive on animal experiments, say practicals will suffer

Ranchi University (RU) will henceforth be a little softer towards animals.

The varsity has formed a four-member ethical committee for prevention of cruelty against animals in scientific research after University Grant Commission (UGC) sent a letter, reminding all government and funded autonomous universities to abide by the guidelines to discontinue dissection and animal experimentation in zoology and life science courses.

The committee, comprising H.P. Sharma, Abhijit Dutta, Saraswati Mishra and Uday Kumar, was set up on March 10. The members will ensure that no animal is brought from the forests for experiments and no cruelty is meted out to them.

The UGC released the guidelines to encourage use of books, models and films over animals for dissection and experimentation purposes in November 2011. It even directed varsities to either develop software or find carcasses for dissection.

On February 20, UGC chairman Ved Prakash issued a letter, asking universities to ensure strict adherence to the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

ďThe directive was issued after a few animal rights activists complained that the population of small animals, which are regularly used for dissection, is dwindling,Ē said RU pro vice chancellor N. Raziuddin, adding that RU had stopped dissections in all departments.

Before the directive, zoology students were using local fishes like rohu, katla as well as frogs and rabbits for dissection.

The UGC also states that for undergraduate programmes, students should not be required to dissect any animal. Post-graduate students can opt for projects related to biodiversity and/or biosystematics.

The directive has not gone down well with a section of students.

ďWe are finding it difficult to carry out our experiments, as animals are not available. Thus, nowadays we only have theory classes and no practical ones,Ē rued Aparna Singh, a third-year zoology student of RU.

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