University of Hyderabad (UoH) vice-chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile was on Tuesday conferred the prestigious ‘Millennium Plaques Honour’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recognition of his “key” role in development of science and technology.
The ‘Millennium Plaques Honour’ has been instituted by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA). The award was presented to Podile at the 104th annual meeting of ISCA which was inaugurated by Modi at Tirupati.
However, a group of students of the varsity, which has been demanding Podile’s removal from the post of VC and his arrest in the suicide case of research scholar Rohit Vemula in UoH premises, criticised the decision to bestow the award on Podile.
Podile has been a member of the task force on ‘bioagents for agriculture’, set up by the Department of Biotechnology, and a member of the programme advisory committee on ‘plant sciences’, set up by the Department of Science and Technology.
“His group has exploited the potential of plant- associated bacteria for better plant health. Their ability to degrade second most abundant polymer, like chitin, was used to protect crop plants from a variety of diseases,” the statement added.
“The efforts made in Prof Appa Rao’s lab not only have implication in understanding plant’s response to external stimuli, but also provide new leads to develop non-chemical approaches for plant protection,” according to the release,” it went on.
Meanwhile, the students reiterated their demand that Podile step down from his post. “His presence has disrupted the academic activities of the university,” the release said.