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Forensic Science for those with a detective mind



Unravelling the mysteries

SHERLOCK HOLMES may have started it but Gil Grissom's the forensic "guru" most talked about today. Ever since AXN started beaming its investigative series "Crime Scene Investigation" (or "CSI" as it's better known), featuring Grissom and his team, into Indian homes, a captive audience has been captivated even more.

The Director of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) here, B.M. Mohan, for instance, believes there are whole new vistas for young people to explore. He hasn't seen "CSI" but stresses that Indian forensic science laboratories are no less efficient than Grissom's fictitious laboratory attached to the Las Vegas Police Department. "We work as hard but may lag behind in terms of infrastructure and manpower."

He feels youngsters can, after doing Law, branch into forensic science and criminology to become a good criminal advocates. Or they can work for private detective agencies "though in India, the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) and a host of other related laws need amendment before private agencies can do forensic work."

Else, you can be an amateur Gil Grissom at any State or Central FSLs. "Each State has regional laboratories to complement police work." Dr. Mohan has just recruited 60 scientific assistants for the FSL at Bangalore, half of them women.

Pay packet

At FSLs, salaries are based on Government scales. Dr. Mohan says scientific assistants start off with Rs. 7,000. Working at the FSL means you help agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Police department. Private agencies may pay more

Specialisations

Anil Aggrawal, Prof. of Forensic Medicine at the Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, has a website on forensic science and its specialisations. He says you can become any of the following:

Forensic pathologist - Conducts post-mortem to find out the cause of death, the time and manner of death and so on. You need to do an MBBS degree and an MD in Forensic Medicine. Almost all Indian universities that offer MBBS courses have this option.

Fingerprint expert - need a M.Sc. in Forensic Science.

Forensic Entomologist — has specialised knowledge of insects.

Forensic Odontologist — specialised knowledge of teeth/oral structures. If a forensic pathologist finds teeth bite marks in, say, a case of death associated with sexual assault, a forensic odontologist will make a dental cast from the teeth bite marks. The cast can be matched with that made from several suspects.

Forensic architects — designs mortuaries and forensic science institutes

Forensic veterinary surgeon — conducts autopsies on animals; helps investigate mysterious animal deaths

Wildlife forensic specialist — detects illegal traffic/trade in elephant tusks, lion and tiger skins, bones, furs, and even internal organs.

Forensic psychiatrist — Integrates clinical experience, knowledge of medicine, mental health, and the neurosciences to form an independent, objective opinion.

Forensic toxicologist — Examines the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms.

Forensic serologist — Looks at physical evidence submitted in criminal cases such as homicides, sexual assaults, burglaries, robberies and hit and run accidents.

You can also train in computer forensics to trace the sender of offending, threatening or sexually explicit mails or become a forensic engineer and examine the nature and extent of damage in structures demolished by bombs or crashed vehicles.

Courses

Some universities offer courses in criminology and forensic science at the post-graduate and diploma levels.

Punjabi University, Patiala has a two-year M.Sc. (Forensic Science) with specialisations in forensic biology, forensic serology, forensic chemistry and forensic toxicology. Go to www.universitypunjabi.org and click on "Teaching and Research Departments" for details.

Sagar University's Department of Criminology and Forensic Science has an M.Sc/M.A (Criminology & Forensic Science) and a Diploma in Criminology & Forensic Science. Eligibility - B.A/B.Sc. Address:

Dr. Hari Singh Gour University, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Pin: 470 003.

Email: sagaruniversity@mp.nic.in; www.sagaruniversity.nic.in.

Madras University has a two-year M.A. (Criminology), a Ph.D in Criminology and a P.G. Diploma. Eligibility: B.A, B.Sc., B.Com, B.L.

Address: University Centenary Buildings, Chepauk, Triplicane, Chennai- 600 005. Visit: www.unom.ac.in

The Forensic Sciences Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu, functions at Forensic House and is affiliated to the University of Madras. It has a two-year M.Sc (Forensic Science). Eligibility: B.Sc. Physics/Chemistry/Zoology/Microbiology. Address: Forensic House,

Kamarajar Salai, Chennai-600 004. Visit: www.tn.gov.in.

Karnataka University, Dharwad offers a M.A. (Criminology and Forensic Science). Address: Department of Criminology and Forensic Science, Karnataka University, Dharwad-580 003.

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra has two-year M.D (Forensic Medicine) and two-year M.Sc (Forensic Science) courses. Eligibility for the M.Sc is B.Sc (50 per cent marks). Address: Senate House, Paliwal Park,Agra Uttar Pradesh. Pin-282 004. Contact the Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Forensic Science, for the respective courses.

Tata Institute of Social Sciences offers M.A. (Social Work) with a specialisation in Criminology and Correctional Administration.

Eligibility: - any Bachelor's Degree/equivalent from a recognised university with 50 per cent minimum average (40 per cent for SC/ST). Address: TISS, P. O. Box 8313, Deonar, V.N. Purvav Marg, Sion, Trombay Road, Mumbai-400 088.

Visit: www.tiss.edu.

The Faculty of Science, Department of Anthropology at the University of Delhi offers a one-year P.G. Certificate course in Forensic Science. Address: Faculty of Science, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, University Road, Delhi-110 007. Visit: www.du.ac.in.

DIVYA SREEDHARAN

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