Animal rights group PETA India Monday said it was "pleased" that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken steps to curb animal dissections in colleges but demanded for a complete ban on the practice.
The UGC recently wrote to all its universities asking them to abstain from animal dissections and experimentations in zoology and life sciences courses in a phased manner.
"The step was taken after numerous appeals to the UGC from PETA India and Maneka Gandhi to stop animal dissections and ensure compliance with the guidelines issued by the ministry of environment and forests in January 2012," a PETA statement said.
The guideline asked UGC to direct establishments and colleges registered under it to use alternatives of animals in the teaching of anatomy and "completely ban" their use for dissection in the teaching of pharmacy/life sciences at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
The UGC has written to universities saying that one animal can be dissected by the professor for demonstration purposes, while it can be made optional for postgraduate students.
PETA India, while terming the direction "progress", noted that it falls short of the recommendations made by the ministry, which aimed to eliminate animal dissections entirely.
"The ministry acknowledged that non-animal methods of teaching students such as computer simulations are not only available, but also superior to the use of animal dissections," the statement said.
"While we are pleased the UGC has finally taken some step to crack down on animal dissections, it is doing students a huge disservice until it stops the use of any animal dissections whatsoever in classrooms outright," it added.
The animal rights organisation further said that every year, a number of frogs, mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits suffer and die for university laboratories.
"The findings of nearly every published comparative study in science-education literature shows non-animal methods teach anatomy and complex biological processes as well as or better than inhumane and archaic animal laboratories," PETA added.
It also said that due to the inherent cruelty to animals, dissection can deter students from "achieving in the sciences"