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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 43  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 621--623

Indian Pharmacological Society: A SWOT analysis

BN Dhawan 
 Ex-President, Indian Pharmacological Society, 3, Rama Krishna Marg, Lucknow-226 007, India

Correspondence Address:
B N Dhawan
Ex-President, Indian Pharmacological Society, 3, Rama Krishna Marg, Lucknow-226 007

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Dhawan B N. Indian Pharmacological Society: A SWOT analysis.Indian J Pharmacol 2011;43:621-623

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Dhawan B N. Indian Pharmacological Society: A SWOT analysis. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Sep 27 ];43:621-623
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The Indian Pharmacological Society (IPS) was founded in 1969 by a small group of pharmacologists at Patna. The meeting was hosted by the late Prof. G. Achari and inaugurated by the late Prof. B. Uvnas, former president of IUPHAR. It has grown over the years to be among the largest pharmacological societies of the world. It had to cross several impediments and barriers to reach its present status, including recognition by the IUPHAR as the representative society for India. The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) adheres as the national representative to selected few international organizations affiliated to International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). It agreed to adhere to IUPHAR and formed a National Committee (IUPHAR Committee) in 1981. I had the privilege of being the Chairman of the first IUPHAR Committee. I was also the leader or member of the Indian delegation to several IUPHAR Congresses for nearly two decades. All the members of IUPHAR Committee so far have been the members of IPS.

IPS is now in its fifth decade and it is appropriate to assess if it has fulfilled the expectations of Indian pharmacologists. It is also necessary to plan future strategy to optimize its contributions and enhance its national and international stature. I am one of the founder members of IPS and the Society has been very considerate to me by electing me unanimously to several offices including that of the President in 1981. I have attended almost all the annual general meetings of IPS. I, thus, have had an opportunity of watching the growth and functioning of the Society since its inception. I feel it is time to undertake a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the performance of IPS. I must stress that I have undertaken this exercise to see how IPS can be strengthened to meet the future challenges and not to cast aspersions on any of its past or present officials. The analysis given below represents my personal views and members may differ from my interpretations. I had presented some of this data at the 43 rd Annual Conference of IPS at Hyderabad in December 2010.


Majority of Indian pharmacologists now are members of the Society and IPS would rank among the five largest pharmacological societies of the world. It has a network of branches. It is, thus, in a position to contacts pharmacologists all over the country through the electronic media or its local branches. IPS regularly organizes well attended annual meetings besides some regional conferences. It has successfully organized several international meetings and workshops including satellite meeting for IUPHAR Congress. IUPHAR has supported some of these activities and sent representatives to participate. It had been a two way interaction and IPS members have held positions in IUPHAR in the past. Prof. P.L. Sharma has been a Council member and Prof. P.K. Seth a member of working groups for toxicology and biochemical pharmacology. I was founder member of the Receptor Nomenclature Committee and served on it for almost a decade. I was also the Chairman of the Committee for Opioid Receptor. IPS members have also served (and continue to serve) on Committees of WHO, UNESCO and UNIDO, etc., and of national scientific agencies like ICMR, DBT, CSIR, DST and DOD. The official journal of the society, Indian Journal of Pharmacology, is now in 43 rd year of publication and gets papers from several countries. It is abstracted or indexed in most of the major secondary information sources like Pub Med, etc. and is also subscribed by many institutions in India and abroad. The Society and the journal have their Websites.


IPS has not tried to develop any long term perspective or action plan. This may largely be due to the fact that the President and most members of the Executive Committee (EC) hold the office for only a year. Some members may not be able to attend even a single meeting of the EC. The major agenda of EC becomes the organization of the Annual Conference and it can devote very little time to consider other matters of national or international significance. The local branches have remained largely dormant. The absence of a permanent headquarter prevents proper archiving and even efficient maintenance of the website and national or international contacts. IPS has not paid adequate attention to some of the important subspecialties like Veterinary Pharmacology. It has also not responded to major national issues affecting biological research like restrictions on animal experiments or bioethics.

In recent years several Indian scientific societies have taken energetic steps for adequate recognition of the pioneers in their specialties. In its initial years IPS had instituted orations to honor some senior pharmacologists but has done nothing thereafter. For example, the birth centenaries of doyens like R.N. Chopra, K.S. Grewal, B.N. Ghosh and B. Mukerji have passed unnoticed by IPS. The centenary of Chopra was recognized even by the Government of India by issue of a memorial stamp.


IPS has ample opportunities currently available to contribute to the development of Pharmacology and its subspecialties at national and international levels and become a major scientific body with global recognition. It will, however, need to widen and streamline the ambit of its activities to utilize these opportunities to maintain a respectable national and international status. For example, there is an urgent need to develop standardized curriculum for MBBS, M. Pharm, BDS, B. V. Sc, M V. Sc and other course like M Sc. IPS is best suited for this exercise. It should also prepare critical reviews on subjects of current national interest like biogenerics or safety of nanomaterials. Another important activity should be publication of status report highlighting major research contributions of Indian pharmacologists. This could be done every 5 years. IUPHAR Committee of INSA could help its publication. Organization of workshops for young pharmacologists on current topics or CME for teachers in medical, pharmacy and veterinary institutions should become a regular activity of IPS.

IPS should develop (and regularly update) the data base of pharmacologists suitable for positions of consultants, advisors, committee members, etc. in national and international agencies. Superannuated pharmacologists may also be included and the database, which could be hosted on the IPS website and made available to relevant ministries, international agencies, etc. This will ensure adequate (and effective) representation of IPS members in committees of national scientific agencies like ICMR, DBT, CSIR, DST, etc., and help in formation of committees for funding research in various areas of pharmacology from those national sources where such a committee does not exist.

IPS has to pay more attention to its international responsibilities and opportunities. INSA National Committee for IUPHAR used to organize several activities, some of which unfortunately have got neglected in recent years. This has lead to its getting bracketed with two other National Committees of INSA and losing its independent status. INSA generally provides the necessary logistic and financial support for various activities to be undertaken by the National Committees. An important function, off course is to ensure appropriate and adequate participation of IPS members in IUPHAR Congress, Clinical pharmacology, SEAWP or any other important meeting organized by IUPHAR. In addition over 50 scientists are elected to membership of various IUPHAR committees at the IUPHAR Congress. IPS, through the INSA Committee for IUPHAR and the delegation for IUPHAR Council meeting should get adequate Indian representation in these committees. China has been very successful in this direction. The Committee should get IUPHAR support for workshops, satellite meetings for IUPHAR Congress, etc. The Committee can perform several other important functions. It can invite foreign pharmacologists to visit India under the INSA bilateral exchange program with several countries and recommend Indian pharmacologists for similar visits there. The Committee should reinitiate publication of 5 yearly status report of research contributions of Indian pharmacologists. It can also play a major role in preparation of white paper/critical analysis on topics of current national priority. Currently, this could include, for example, regulatory requirements for nanomaterials or biogenerics.

IPS has a post of Secretary International but has not paid adequate attention to develop international contacts. The International Secretary should strengthen the existing program with the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) under which BPS has been nominating one of its members to attend the Annual IPS Meeting and visit a few Indian Institutions. BPS may be requested to facilitate participation of IPS member(s) in meetings of BPS. In addition, the Secretary should try to develop similar programs with national pharmacological Societies of other countries like Japan, Netherlands and Thailand, etc. The Secretary should also establish contacts with International Agencies like WHO, UNDP, UNESCO, etc. who are on the lookout for suitable Pharmacologists as Committee Members/Consultants. Most of these agencies have their regional offices in Delhi. IPS could provide them the biodata of potential Indian experts.

Major pharmacological societies of the world now have significant number of foreign members. IPS has not made adequate efforts to build up a foreign membership. As a first step, NRI pharmacologists, foreign scientists having Indian linkages, or those submitting manuscripts to IJP could be invited to become members of the IPS.


IPS may not face any imminent threat to its existence but its importance could be significantly reduced and some of its activities can be severely affected unless these threats are recognized and remedial actions taken. INSA regularly reviews the Indian contribution to International organizations to which it is adhering and revises the list, because there are many pending requests. The IUPHAR Committee has already been minimized due to the lack of adequate activity and could be phased out unless its contribution increases substantially. IPS would also be affected by development of splinter societies looking after interests of special group of Pharmacologists. Indian Society of Veterinary Pharmacologists has already been formed. Another impending threat is reduced recognition from national agencies. National societies of several other disciplines are overshadowing IPS. A much younger Indian Academy of Neurosciences has got a Neuroscience working group formed in DBT. It is also trying for establishment of Ramamurti Fellowships from the same agency to commemorate the memory of eminent neurosurgeon the late Prof. B. Ramamurti. The Society of Biological Chemists has got Khorana Fellowships from DST/CSIR to commemorate Nobel Laureate Har Gobind Khorana and Pathologists have got total works of the late Prof. V Ramalingaswami published by INSA.

 Suggested Future Actions

Several steps need to taken to ensure that IPS enjoys a premier position in the international community of pharmacologists and also among the scientific societies of the country. The EC should not only prepare a long-term perspective of the activities of the Society but also ensure its effective implementation. It will not be possible for the presently constituted EC to do so because of its very short tenure of 1 year. It is essential that the EC gets a longer tenure. Many International and National Societies and Academies have modified their constitution to ensure continuity of functioning for their ECs and the IPS must do the same. It is suggested that all the officials as well as members of EC should have 3-year term with 1 /3 officials and members retiring every year. A transitional plan would be needed for the first two years. This will enable the President and the team to prepare a long-term perspective and phase its implementation. Some changes in the number of officials or EC members may also be required. A small subcommittee of EC could look at the constitution of other major societies/academies and prepare a modified constitution to be approved by the general body of IPS as per the norms of the society. The ex-officio positions will become redundant and could be abolished. Secondly, the establishment of a permanent headquarter is essential not only for proper maintenance and archiving of important documents but also for proper communication link with national and international agencies. It may also be necessary to create a post of Head Quarter Secretary who could take over some of the responsibilities of General Secretary. The INSA National Committee for IUPHAR needs to be more active and effectively perform all the functions listed above under the Opportunities including regular publication of status report. It is also necessary to improve the activity of local branches of the Society. They should organize regular meetings, workshops, etc., to enable members to meet and exchange views. Many scientific societies allocate some of the award lectures, etc., to be delivered at local branches. This enables the speaker to choose a convenient location and date and also reduces the load on Annual Conference. The program of the Annual Conference could be better planned then and may help avoid scheduling important activities at parallel sessions.

It will be necessary to quickly implement these changes in a time-bound manner if the desired results are to be obtained. It is suggested that the present Executive Committee of IPS should form a subcommittee to frame suitable recommendations, including constitutional amendments, for this purpose. The recommendations could be put up on IPS website for comments from members of the Society. The EC should consider and finalize the action plan and get the approval at the annual meeting of the IPS.