Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) the leading multidisciplinary Public Research Institute (PRI) of the country commenced its magnificent journey as the 'East Regional Laboratories' of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) in January 1955 in the premises of the Polytechnic Institute at Tejgaon, Dhaka. Dr. muhammad qudrat-i-khuda, the eminent scientist and educationist, conceived the idea and took initiative for establishing such a laboratory in this part of the continent. At the beginning, this regional multidisciplinary research unit had five-research divisions-viz. Natural Product Division, Food and Fruit Research Division, Fuel Research Division, Glass and Ceramic Research Division, and Leather Research Division.

Later, giving emphasis on the technological aspects, a new research division named 'Division of Engineering and Process Development' was introduced while the first five divisions were renamed as: Division of Natural Products, Division of Food Science and Technology, Division of Fuel and Petrochemical Science and Technology, Division of Glass and Ceramics Technology, and Division of Leather Science and Technology. Dr. Muhammad Qudart-i-Khuda, was appointed as the founder Director of the East Regional Laboratories and under his dynamic leadership and guidance this laboratory continued its onward journey.

BCSIR Building

At the inception, the 'East Regional Laboratories' stated functioning in the borrowed Polytechnic Institute building. However, the urge for expanding the research horizon pushed it to have a permanent place of its own. Accordingly, in late 1958, the 'East Regional Laboratories' started the construction work at its own land in Dhanmondi (Mirpur Road) to set up different laboratories and buildings and moved to the present campus in 1960.

Later in 1965 the 'National Drug Research and Development Institute' (NDRDI) was established in Chittagong to diversify the research activities by exploring the natural resources particularly, medicinal and aromatic plants. This laboratory was initially housed in the Chittagong Government College till November 1967 and later, it moved to its present site near the Cantonment area. This laboratory is now known as the 'BCSIR Laboratories ' Chittagong'.

To utilise the indigenous resources (eg lac, wax etc) of the northern part of the country, the theme of establishing the 'North-West Regional Laboratories' was conceived during the mid-sixties. Rajshahi was chosen as the site of such a laboratory and in consequence, a piece of land measuring 100 acres was acquired at Mirzapur near rajshahi university in 1963-64. This laboratory was established in 1967 and functioned in a nucleus laboratory with a small office in the Silk and Lac Research-cum-Training Institute.

Foundation of BCSIR after the liberation After the liberation of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research came into being in 1973 on the basis of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1(24)/73-BCSIR, dated: 16 November 1973. At that time, the Council comprised of its headquarters in Dhaka and the other two regional research units one each in Chittagong and Rajshahi and functioned under the Ministry of Industries. Subsequently, the Parliament enacted the Ordinance No. V of 1978 as an autonomous body. This ordinance is known as the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Ordinance, 1978. Professor Dr. Mofizuddin Ahmed was the first Chairman of BCSIR and served here from 23 November 1973 to 21 November 1979. At present, the BCSIR functions under the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology.

The units of BCSIR The BCSIR is serving the nation for over 55 years to speed up the economic vibrancy of the country. Now it has expanded its domain to three full-fledged multi disciplinary regional laboratories, five mono disciplinary institutes and one centre for pilot plant studies which are carrying out research and development (R&D) programs in different fields of science and technology. All the units are pursuing mostly applied research with a touch of basic research where necessary. Basic research is needed for building up scientific and technological bases of the scientists, which ultimately contribute to the development of the country while applied research is concerned with the development of technologies related to the industries and useful to the current needs of the country. The research and development plans and programs of each unit is controlled and coordinated by the Director of the unit.

Besides carrying out regular R&D assignments, all the units of BCSIR are executing aided projects, technical assistance projects and various development projects under the annual development program (ADP) of the government. To implement these projects smoothly, Planning and Development (P&D) Division of BCSIR is headed by a Director who acts as the focal point for coordinating with the donor and sponsoring authorities. This planning cell was created in the year 1978 and later it was rearranged as a division and the first full time Director was appointed in 1984.

In addition to taking up research projects on current national issues, the BCSIR is also mandated to offer analytical services to solve various fundamental and applied problems faced by the industries, different public and private organisations, enterprises, entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Until recently, all the research units of the BCSIR individually practiced to provide this analytical service. However, to expedite the analytical service and to establish a better coordination spirit with the clients, the BCSIR has launched 'One-stop Analytical Service Centre', which has become fully functional from 15 November 2009 under the control and supervision of the Research Coordinator.

BCSIR has also set up an ICT cell in December 2009 with the aim to accelerate the information and communication services.

The central library of BCSIR has been established to provide services on Science and Technology (S&T) based information to the scientists, technologists, educationists and students. This integral unit of BCSIR is located at the Council building in Dhaka and it is one of the best and rich libraries in the country. The library collection consists of 15,000 volumes of books and more than 25,000 back volumes of journals. A number of on-line journals are also available here. The BCSIR Library has established informal relationship with some scientific and technological libraries in Dhaka to facilitate inter-library loans of books and other library materials. Under this relationship the BCSIR Library can borrow books and other library materials on demand from the scientists. The information and exhibition centre exhibits the products developed and leased out by BCSIR.

Citizen Charter BCSIR has developed the following citizen charter to ensure quality public services and according to the mandate as specified in the Ordinance No. V of 1978 it offers postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Muhammad Qudrat-i Khuda Fellowship, Professor Dr. NA Khan post Grad Fellowship, Professor MH Khondoker Memorial Fellowship, Prof Mofizuddin Ahmed Memorial Fellowship. It also provides research grants to the university teachers in different areas of research as covered by the Council. In addition, BCSIR organises Science Fair regularly to encourage the students of schools and colleges and also supports the young scientists and gives the chances to provide opportunities to the students of schools and colleges to visit the laboratories of BCSIR in order to develop the thrust for science education. Along this, BCSIR also houses library facilities during the weekdays to the scientists, technologists, educationalists and students. Its Scientific articles are regularly published in the journal Bangladesh Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research (BJSIR).

All the nine research units of BCSIR extend their support services to the public and private organisations, entrepreneurs, industries, academics etc regarding (i) Transfer of technology, (ii) Assistance to industry, (iii) Analytical service, (iv) Poverty alleviation and women empowerment, (v) Human resource development, (vi) Creation of public awareness and (vii) Consultancy service.

Mission To accomplish the vision 2021, BCSIR has focused on the following missions: (1) Conduct, promote and co-ordinate market driven scientific and industrial research; (2) Reschedule organisational set-up/organogram, ordinance, by-laws and regulations to meet the demand of vision 2021; (3) Get all laboratories accreditated to cater the needs of the local market as well as the export market in addition to training up various research and analytical laboratories of the country; (4) Create and sustain a congenial atmosphere to flourish R&D activities in the country and (5) Generate income to replenish 25% of the total expenditure of BCSIR.

Organisational set-up At present the functions of BCSIR are being conducted under the overall control and supervision of the Chairman with the support of four full time members and four part time members. The council is governed by the Board and the policy formulation is made at the Advisory Council. The Minister, Ministry of Science and ICT acts as president of the Advisory Council. The total number of employees in BSCIR is 1395.

Success story of the BCSIR The success story of the BCSIR began from the period of Dr. Muhammad Quadrat-i-Khuda and since then it keeps adding credits to its account. Dr. Khuda and his associates patented 18 scientific inventions. Manufacturing of Partex from jute-stick is still recognised as the most noteworthy scientific achievement of Dr. Khuda. Other innovations such as, preparation of malt vinegar from the juice of sugarcane and molasses, rayon from jute and jute-sticks, and paper from jute etc. were also highly appreciated. However, recently the success story of this leading PRI has become wealthier by gaining a number of credentials which include BCSIR won the 3rd prize in recognition of its innovative R&D activities and received the ISO 17025 accreditation to analyse twelve water quality parameters; BCSIR is designated as the Bangladesh Government agency responsible for the performance verification of arsenic removal technologies to be marketed in Bangladesh; BCSIR has been given the responsibility to detection of melamine in imported powder milk and tetracycline in shrimp as per requirement of EU, BCSIR developed energy saving brick and energy efficient brick, cost-effective and portable fiber-glass biogas digester to generate electricity using biogas technology; Solar grid hybridisation technology; Solar grid hybridisation technology to save electricity and to get uninterrupted power supply in the urban area and Dual-fuel (CNG/diesel) engine for irrigation to save 60% fuel. Moreover BCSIR transport pool as well as the government transport pool is using the developed brake oil which is of international standard. The newly established Instrumentation and Calibration Service Laboratory of BCSIR started rendering services and another project entitled 'Strengthening of the laboratory for maintaining environment quality and soil health' has been implemented successfully; BCSIR prepared the National Strategy for infrastructure of Bangladesh.

ADP projects Since 1973, BCSIR has been implementing development projects aiming to (i) develop physical infrastructure, (ii) establish new institutes, laboratories, centres and (iii) expand research activities under the annual development program (ADP) of the government. So far BCSIR has successfully accomplished ~50 ADP projects and at present 2011 6 ADP projects are being implemented.

Budget BCSIR gets its R&D and establishment allocation from the government of Bangladesh since 1973. The year-wise budget allocation (total and R&D) from 1973 to 2011 shows a steady rise in the total budget allocation though there are many ups and downs in the R&D allocation. There has been a static situation during 2006 to 2008. It may be mentioned that pumping of 1% of GDP in science and technology could help in the rise of about 5% of a country's GDP.

Conclusion BCSIR has already passed 56 years of its existence. It is high time to make an assessment of its achievements and failures over these long periods. The motto with which it was established could fulfill its mission partially. The prime PRI of the country has contributed it a lot for the development of science and technology to help boost up the country's SME sector. Moreover, the emerging entrepreneurs have not been generous enough to extend their hands in developing local technologies. Lack of interaction between the entities of entrepreneurs and Science and Technology research has slowed down the process. BCSIR is working as a liaison and coordination platform for the relevant public agencies to reduce the gap and barrier. The Act and the organogram of BCSIR framed in 1978 have not been updated. Administrative and financial matters, it depends on the government's decision. So the organisation cannot function as an autonomous body in real sense. So long the organisation is not financially self sufficient, the true autonomy will not be achieved. [SM Imamul Huq and Samina Ahmed]