(Image taken from here)
In a rather startling development, an allegation has surfaced recently about a top-notch scientist, engaged in research relating to genetically modified (GM) food crops, having fabricated false claims with an eye to a national award. Dr. Kailash C. Bansal, a senior scientist in Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), had on July 16, 2009 been presented with the renowned Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award for the exceptional research that he had conducted in transgenic crops in 2007-2008. The award had been based on Dr. Bansal’s claims of having filed as many as three patents for novel gene discovery, including one on transgenic brinjal. However, on the basis of RTI and investigation carried out by Mail Today, it has been revealed that on the said date, no such patent application had been made at all! Following the award, Dr. Bansal had been further rewarded with the prestigious post of director of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, the plant gene bank in India.
In 2009, Bansal was a professor in the National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology and the Institute Technology Management Committee (ITMC) of that organization had then inquired about the details of the plant patent application, which ITMC was unaware of till it had been mentioned in the award citation. At that time, Bansal had represented that he’d applied for the patent on October 30, 2007, through a private law firm, Corporate Law Group, although strangely, the reference number given by him belonged to 2009, an anomaly in itself. Nor did Bansal furnish a copy of his application or receipt as proof despite requests from ITMC. When ITMC reported the matter to ICAR, the latter had apparently sought to “regularise Bansal’s application in the Council’s interest.” Subsequently, Bansal furnished the reference number (1621/DEL/2009) to Mail Today in course of the latter’s inquiry, but said that he’d filed the application on July 27, 2007 (earlier, he had stated to ITMC of having filed it on October 30, 2007). Since then, Mail Today has upon investigation found that the application couldn’t have been filed before the first week of August, 2009. ICAR has till now not made any official response to this startling allegation. If proven true, it can certainly reveal a can of worms about the level of diligence practiced in the screening procedure for such prestigious awards as well as the ICAR’s stance about allegations regarding its employees, which would be unfortunate indeed.
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Tags: Shouvik Kumar Guha