Consentia on Multidisciplinary Research

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AFFECTING BIOTECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT IN CHINA AND INDIA

ABSTRACT

 Culture in itself is a broad term having its impact on almost every field that we can think about. Culture is no more restricted to the dresses and music authenticated to that region but have expanded its defining zone to the thinking of people, their behavior, the way they response in a situation etc. The culture has shown its effect not only in the lifestyle of a region but also on the governmental policies, the advancement of any science, the development of any firm, the national and international treaties of a country, the development of any country. Since culture is impacting so many diverse areas, its effect can also be seen in the advancement of Biotechnology in China and India. Both the countries are the Asian countries sharing their borders but show a wide range of differences in the advancement of Biotechnological science in respective countries. The differences are mainly due to the cultural differences in both the countries. While China is the next biotech super power of the world, India is a new emergent in the field promoting the research amongst its people. Chinese researchers have also embraced this concept and have contributed invaluable things in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and related bioinformatics. A series of advanced laboratories or centers were established which will represent Chinese modern biotechnology development in the near future. India being a developing country is promoting the biotech research to abreast the same level of ongoing research in the world. This review compares the differences in advancement of Biotechnology in both the countries based on the cultural differences prevailing there. The comparison here has been based on the Geert Hofstede model of Cultural variations among the nations.

What is culture

 “Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”– Geert Hofstede.

As explained by the statement, Culture is collective programming of mind, mind in itself is a complex creation in human and programming of mind in unique sense provides diversity to the explanation of the statement. Culture is a word having assorted definitions associated with it. In one of the varied way, we can define Culture as knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, notions of time and behavioral & psychological or intellectual possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. After a gigantic definition of culture; in significant terms culture is the way we choose to respond and live in communities based on the teachings that we get from our upbringing in the society. We are all individuals, and no two people belonging to the same group/ creed are guaranteed to respond in exactly the same way. Actually this is almost impossible. The differences occur and it is because of the way we perceive things which depends on the way we have been brought up, in the environment we have been brought up and the values we have acquired.

Since its existence, human has been living in groups. And each group had its own perceptive and idea of how to live life: Some worshipped nature while some idols, some eat vegetarian food, while some survived on non vegetarian food [1]. The difference occurred at each and every level. Groups gave an advantage of sharing food, caring for infants, and building social networks helped our ancestors meet the daily challenges of their environments. Over time, early humans began to gather at hearths and shelters to eat and socialize. As brains became larger and more complex, growing up took longer—requiring more parental care and the protective environment of a home. Expanding social networks led, eventually, to the complex social lives of modern humans. These interactions among groups led to globalization of the world. Due to globalization distant living groups (now called countries/regions) are able to understand the culture of other groups/ country and this lead to better survival of groups along with some misconception between them []. The misconception arises mainly due to the cultural differences among the groups.

Sometime we wonder why there is so much difference between India and Germany or any other nation. Why we can’t do business with whichever country we like? Why we are not able to communicate in just one simple language with every other individual? If we take example of our own country India, culture difference occur in each and every state as we move from north India to south India, we can recognize the difference in lifestyle, food we eat, clothes we wear, way we talk, our languages and everything. This reflects the environment we belong to and culture we follow. Government policies of any region, development of any new field, public response to any new product and promotional strategies opted to promote a product are also reflected by the culture of that region.

What is Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a new emerging field of science that is the hybrid of use of technology on the biological systems for the benefit of mankind. The field is not even half a century old but has influenced common life in an indispensable way. Started as a pure research oriented field, the technology has captured the industrial sector as well, and the impact is so deep that most of the countries has their more than 35% GDP contributed by biotechnology sector solely. The sector is not only restricting itself to the research labs only but is expanding in the fields of IT, Law, Medical sciences, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, Environment protection, Resource preservation, Food supply and many more. By landing its foot in so many fields, it’s obvious that it has become an integral part of our daily lives. From the food we eat to the air we breathe (and even sometimes the organs we have) are all the products of Biotechnology. Since we are surrounded so deeply by biotechnological products, the origin of industry cannot be new in itself. It’s true to say that biotechnology is not new, it was there amongst us from a long time untraceable but with the advent of industry into the field and the commercialization of its products, we have been able to acknowledge its contribution to our lives. The fermented products that we use are there with human evolution itself but the biotechnological sector optimized the field by engineering the microbes responsible for it and using them to give a better yield of their product and has today conquered this brewing industry by providing large amount of product at a cheap price.  The other examples of biotech products include: Bt cotton, Humanized insulin, Golden rice, Humanized antibodies, Cheese, Aspartame, Genetically modified papaya, Animal free leather, Seedless watermelon. Biotechnology plays a major role in development in several countries around the world. Some countries are supporting it on a large scale and some are not accepting it. Research and invention are on its high pace in developing countries and developing countries are trying hard to come up together in the race of development in biotechnology. In country like India biotechnology is totally acceptable because of its contribution in health, food industry, cloning, making hybrid seeds. Government also supported this by making rules and policies in context of growth of this field in India since 1986. This also affected the economy of this country from emerging field like stem cells, system biology. Biotechnology in India is totally dependent on government policies and on private sectors. But the challenges faced in the development of this sector are: Patient safety, Patent protection, Test data protection and the economic impact of biopharmaceuticals are controversial as well as strategic topics in the global health agenda[3].

India and Biotechnology

India has placed great importance on the development of a strong scientific sector since its early days as an independent country. Technology and science have been associated not only with culture, social progress and the import substitution paradigm, but also with political pre-eminence and even national pride. P.Ghosh affirms for instance that the commitment of the Indian government in the biotech field “emerges out of compulsions and social commitments to minimize foreign dependence” [4]. In many ways India is a country in transition, a characteristic which partially explains the contrasts found in several social, economic and scientific sectors. Industrialization, private sector, government sector are growing in a progressive way and have made of India one of the world’s most dynamic economies [5]. Education also presents sharp disparities. Biotechnology has a broader societal dimension in India. It is not regarded only as a private profiting activity, but also as a tool to foster national development. In fact, India quickly identified the potential biotechnology had for the promotion of national development. The growth of the biopharmaceutical sector has been so important that some forecast that it will not only be able to equal or increase the economic revenues generated by the Indian conventional pharmaceutical generics industry, but also to cause a major paradigm shift from the development of chemistry-driven medicines to biopharmaceuticals [6]. It is too soon to ascertain whether this will be true or not, but it indeed reflects the rapid development that the biopharmaceutical sector has achieved. Biotechnology is creating a new revolution in developing countries like India. Being a diverse nation with varied combinations of age groups, the acceptance of Biotechnological products by the general public was a major concern by the entrepreneurs. But the governmental support in promoting Biotechnological industries has led many people to take the risk of putting their step into this new arriving industry. India is party to several international treaties that directly impact biotechnology regulation and management. These treaties pertain to several public international law regimes, such as international trade law, international environmental law, intellectual property law and international human rights law [7]. On the other hand, the national normative framework is the outcome of a relatively unsystematic evolution which has its origin in the 1986 Environment (Protection) Act. The norms of the Environment (Protection) Act provide the legal background to the Rules for Manufacturing, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, which are the other key pieces of legislation [8]. India, not being so strong in its policies at global level is facing issue in the development of Biotechnology science. The issue of Patent, Patient safety and ethical issues are amongst the major forces that are hindering the biotech bloom in India. The relative novelty of modern biopharmaceuticals and the complexity of the issues they raise explain the important differences that exist among national regulations. Scientists are not indulging in the field because the research they undergo does not have a guarantee of giving fame to them but is used by others.

China and Biotechnology

China has been an influential nation in the world. It is one of the powerful nations having a strong say in the international policies that are being made. Its military strength as well as research based strength is also know. Being aware of the benefits of the biotechnological sector, China is now increasing its financial input to biotechnology research, which has led to remarkable achievements by China in modern biotechnology. As one of the key parts of modern biotechnology, industrial biotechnology will be crucial for China’s sustainable development in this century. Chinese researchers have also embraced biotechnological concept and have contributed invaluable things in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and related bioinformatics [11]. A series of advanced laboratories or centers were established which will represent Chinese modern biotechnology development in the near future.  Beyond providing the strategic direction and the primary funding source, government support for biotechnology is manifest in other ways. First, it identifies specific sites for biotech industrial development. Second, the government is also investing a total of $1.8B in biotechnology science parks. The development of these parks is and professionals who are offered generous incentive packages to return to China to establish and lead life science-related business entities in these parks. Third, the government’s interests in biotechnology industry are represented in the commercial orchestrated with its policy to recruit overseas Chinese-born scientists sector by two types of enterprises. Finally, the government provides strong support to the growth of the private sector involved in the biotechnology industry through a combination of reforms and tax and legal incentives [12]. Governmental support not only helps in the blooming of Biotechnology laboratories in China but the funding is also supporting the formation of databases for easy research and promotion of advance research.

Comparing Biotechnology in China and India in reference to their culture

 India and China shares almost same historical background and are similar in many ways. But still differences in the pattern of growth of both the nations are there. The culture classification of both nations has been made on the basis of four parameters: Power Distance (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) [2]. Power distance is the dimension that deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. India scores high on this dimension, 77, indicating an appreciation for hierarchy and a Top – Down Structure in society and Organizations. And China scores 80 on the same scale. Since both the countries are scoring comparably, Power distance is not the deciding parameter for the difference in the Biotechnological advancement in both the countries. Individualism, the fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. India, with a score of 48 and China with a score of 20 depict that collectivism pertains in China as compared to India. Since Biotechnology is a research based science where for research we need to work in groups because an individual researching a new thing has a lower probability as compared to a group researching a new thing. May be this is the reason that Biotechnology is splurging in China as compared to that in Indian. In India people fear to share their research ideas that it might get stolen and hence Indian research papers are usually from a single institution; but in Chinese research paper we do see people from different institutions working on same research topic. Masculinity / Feminity: A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour. India score 56 in this area and China scores 66, both the parameters are comparable. Hence this is not a very strong impacting factor in the differences in Biotechnological advancement in both the compared countries. Uncertainty avoidance, the dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score. India scores 40 and China scores 30 on this scale. Both the values are almost comparable but states that Chinese people are more risk taking than Indian and Chinese always have a Plan B for their success rate to be high. Long term orientation, the long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view. India scores 61 and China 118 on this parameter. The huge difference states that Chinese people work by keeping future in mind while Indians work in present only. Since Biotechnology field deals with the living organisms, organisms’ life cycle, their growth phase, favourable conditions etc need to be taken into consideration for the advancement in the science. Moreover, Chinese government sees the long term potential in the Biotech science and is able to fetch maximum benefits out of it, while India is lacking behind in the understanding of long term benefits by the science.
REFERENCES:

  1. http://humanorigins.si.edu/human-characteristics/social
  2. http://geert-hofstede.com/
  3. Chaturvedi, S., Status and Development of Biotechnology in India: An Analytical Overview, Ris Discussion Papers, RIS-DP # 28/2002.
  4. Department of Science and Technology, Research and Development Statistics 2007-2008, New Delhi: Department of Science and Technology, 2009.
  5. Department of Biotechnology, National Biotechnology Development Strategy. Key Elements, http://www.dbtindia.nic.in/biotechstrategy/National%20Biotechnology%20Development%20Strategy.pdf (accessed August 2010).
  6. Khorana, S., Perdikis, N., Yeung, M. T., Kerr, W. A., Bilateral Trade Agreements in the Era of Globalization. The EU and India in Search of Partnership, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2010.
  7. Rao, S., “Indian Biotechnology Developments in Public and Private Sectors – Status and Opportunities”, Asian Biotechnology and Development Review, http://www.ris.org.in/abdr_nov1.pdf (accessed June 2010).
  8. Pharmaceutical Research & Development Committee, Transforming India into a Knowledge Power, http://chemicals.nic.in/pharma10.htm#top (accessed January 2010).
  9. Report on Steps to be taken by Government of India in the context of Data Protection Provisions of Article 39.3 of TRIPS Agreement, 1.11, Satwant Reddy (Secretary, Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers) Gurdial Singh Sandhu (Joint Secretary, Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers), Government of India, 31st May, 2007.
  10. Luscombe et. al. (2001) What is Bioinformatics. A proposed definition and overview of the field. Method Inform. Med., 40, 346-358.
  11. Kitano H (2002), Overview Systems Biology, Nature, 420, 206-2100.
  12. http://blogs.nature.com/sevenstones/2007/07/what_is_systems_biology_3.html.
  13. Bruggeman FJ and Westerhoff HV (2007) The nature of systems biology, Trends in Microbiology, 15, 45-50.
  14. Bennett, R., Kambhampati, U., Morse, S., & Ismail, Y., (2006). Farm-level economic performance of genetically modified cotton in Maharashtra, India. Review of Agricultural Economics, 28, 50-71.
  15. Biospectrum. (2009). Biospectrum-ABLE industry overview. Biospectrum Asia Edition, 4(11).
  16. Brookes, G., & Barfoot, P. (2008). Global impact of biotech crops: Socioeconomic and environmental effects, 1996-2006. AgBioForum, 11(1), 21-38 (http://www.agbioforum.org).
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s