MU lab dissections being phased out

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked universities offering zoology and biology courses to discontinue the dissections of animals in a phased manner. The circular that was initially issued in 2011 was kept on hold as there was no immediate replacement for the dissections, however, after a university in Chennai came up with an alternative last month, the UGC asked other universities to adopt the same and stop dissections of certain animals.
Speaking about the decision, Mr Vinayak Dalvie, member, board of studies (zoology), University of Mumbai (MU), admitted to the university being asked to employ alternative means of studying the anatomy of animals rather than dissecting them.
“The UGC came out with guidelines for discontinuation of dissection and animal experimentation in 2011. However, as the subject compulsorily requires dissection of animals at both the UG and PG levels, it is still to be accepted and implemented. Though we have asked colleges to stop dissection of some animals, we will stop dissection of other animals only after a committee appointed to deliberate on alternatives submits its report,” said Mr Dalvie.
The circular issued by the UGC last month has suggested that universities should adopt the Bharathidasan University’s course model, which gives details of simulators and software available for digital dissection of various animals. The course emphasises on the use of charts, slides, remnants and models instead of specimens of animals.
The syllabus further stresses that animal dissection should only be carried out on animals not protected under the Wildlife (protection) Act 1972. Thus, colleges have stopped dissecting rats, frogs and sharks, but still continue using earthworms and cockroaches. It also suggests that instead of animals in captivity, study of naturally available animals like squirrel and fish should be promoted.
“There are certain gray areas in the UGC circular that need to be ironed out before physical
dissection of animals can be completely done away with,” said Mr Dalvie.

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