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Green revolutionaries

education Updated: Dec 16, 2009 09:32 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Agriculture drives the Indian economy, and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is the fulcrum of that driving force. It has done some path-breaking research — the country’s green revolution of the 1960s was born here, one might say, and a new variety of basmati rice (Pusa basmati 1460) created here has brought India millions in export revenue.

Admission to all agricultural universities in India happens through a common entrance test, conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). And toppers have been known to always choose IARI, one of India’s first institutes to be declared a deemed university in 1958.

Most of the IARI faculty members are also its alumni, and the majority of PhD students have done their MSc here. “No preference is given to our students at the time of admission (to the PhD programme), but it just so happens that those who qualify are generally our former students,” says Dr KM Manjaiah, registrar (academics).
This tradition has nurtured strong bonding and camaraderie among students and teachers. “When I was hospitalised during my MSc, I was visited by the director, dean, HoD and classmates. You can never expect this elsewhere,” says Kumar Durgesh, a PhD student of genetics who also did his MSc from the IARI.

Programmes: MSc in 23 disciplines and PhD in 22 disciplines, including post-harvest technology, genetics, horticulture, microbiology, soil science, water science, seed science, plant pathology, entomology (study of insects), nematology (study of roundworms), etc.

Placements: Students generally look for jobs as well as research options after they finish postgraduate studies. Many of them take the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board exam to get jobs as scientists in government agencies. A few go for further studies abroad. A scientist normally makes Rs 40,000-45,000 initially, which increases with rank and time. Students receive a stipend. For MSc students, the amount is Rs 8,000, which increases by Rs 4,000-6,000 at the doctoral level.

Extra-curricular activities: One hostel has a billiards facility, where the future scientists unwind. The institute has no cultural society.

Infrastructure: One needs a vehicle to get around the 1,250-acre campus, one of the greenest in the country. The library is one of the largest in the subcontinent. The institute’s National Phytotron Facility is the first of its kind in India to study the live responses of plants under controlled conditions and the possible impact of climate change and greenhouse gases.

The five men’s hostels take in 470 and the single hostel for women accommodates 125. There is a hostel for married students, too.

Found on campus: “We are privileged to be doing research here among industry stalwarts. This is an institution of eminence not just in the country but in the world,” says Nishant Kumar Sinha, a PhD student of agricultural physics.

The institute was set up in 1905 in Pusa, Bihar. It shifted to Delhi after an earthquake in 1936 damaged the original building. The IARI has developed several technologies and crop varieties that generate huge export revenues. This super-modern research body teams up with corporates to market its innovations