All India Coordinated Project on Taxonomy

A sound taxonomic knowledge base is a prerequisite for environmental assessment; ecological research, effective conservation, management and sustainable use of biological resources; and bioprospecting. It is the tool by which components of biological diversity are identified and enumerated, and it therefore provides the basic knowledge underpinning efforts to conserve biological diversity, optimize the use of biological resources in a sustainable way, and thereby enhance the quality of life.

At this crucial juncture, when the need for a taxonomic stocktaking of the earth’s biodiversity is becoming increasingly important and urgent, the taxonomic expertise is aging and declining in number, both nationally and globally. This decline of taxonomic expertise is a critical problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

In this background the Ministry of Environment & Forests organised a two-day National Workshop at Jaipur in February, 1997. This workshop was attended by the top taxonomic experts of the country. This meeting identified the critical gap areas in which taxonomic expertise in the country was either nil or fast dwindling. One of the recommendations of the Jaipur workshop was to develop an All India Coordinated Project for Capacity Building in Taxonomy. Thereafter, the Ministry set up a Technical Group to develop the All India project and after inter-ministerial consultations, the project has been approved.

The project envisages establishment of Centres for Research in identified priority gap areas (e.g. Virus, Bacteria, Microlepidoptera etc.) in the field of taxonomy, education and training (fellowships, scholarships, Chairs, Career Awards etc.), and Strengthening of BSI and ZSI as the Coordinating Units. The modalities of implementing the All India Project, and prioritising activities under the project have been decided after detailed consultations with experts.

Nine Centres for research and two Centres for Training and institutions and coordinators for these centres have been identified in the first phase. These are given below:

Each Coordinator has identified 4-5 Collaborators across the country. The Coordinators of the Centres together with the Collaborators are required to undertake :

An interactive brainstorming session with the identified Coordinators and some collaborators was held on 3rd June, 1999.

A high level steering Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof H Y Mohan Ram, an eminent biologist, and distinguished scientists like Fr. C J Saldanha and Prof. M S Jairajpuri, and with representatives from UGC, CSIR, ICAR, DBT, DST, ICMR, ICFRE, Planning Commission, Directors of BSI & ZSI, and some experts has been constituted to oversee the implementation of the project. The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held on 22nd July, 1999. The Committee after evaluating the proposals received from the Centres has recommended the quantum of assistance to be released. The Committee has also recommended 14 scholarships at M.Sc. levels in various identified priority areas in the Centres for research.

    Coordinator & Institution                                                    Subject Area
1.  Dr Kalyan Banerji, National Institute of Virology, 20 A, Dr Ambedkar Road, Pune              Animal viruses

2.  Prof B N Johri, Microbiology College of Basic Sciences & Humanities,                     Bacteria & Archria
    G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pant Nagar - 263 145

3.  Prof Manoharachari, Deptt of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad                           Fungi

4.  Dr K P Singh Botanical Survey of India Eastern Circle, Meghalaya Shillong-793 003            Lichens & bryophytes

5.  Dr C Renuka, Kerala Forests Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala                               Palms

6.  Dr V J Nair, c/o Botanical Survey of India, Southern Circle, T.N.A.U. Campus                 Grasses & bamboos
    Lawley Road, Coimbatore-641 003.

7.  Prof Irfan Ahmed, Zoology Department, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh-202 002             Helminthes & nematodes

8.  Prof H S Rose, Zoology Department, Punjabi University, Patiala                               Insects: Microlepidoptera

9.  Dr Surya Rao, c/o Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta                                       Mollusca

10. Prof C R  Babu, Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems,                  For training in plant
    University of Delhi, Delhi                                                                   biosystematics

11. Dr J R B Alfred, Director, Zoological Survey of Indiam, Calcutta                             For training in Animal biosystematics