It was an apt salute from deputy chief minister Subkhbir Singh Badal to the university that single-handedly revolutionised agriculture in the state and north India. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), which officially turned fifty on Tuesday, was lauded by one and all for its contribution to the state. The deputy CM described it is "an asset to Punjab as well as to the nation".
"It is a world class institution. Without it, the state would not have been developed," Badal said during the inaugural session of the Golden Jubilee Foundation Day celebrations of the PAU.
Though he lauded the contribution of PAU and farmers in developing the state agriculture, he did speak about the challenges being faced in "agri-sector". "The depleting underground water level is a serious concern and calls for the attention of the farm experts," he said, adding that otherwise the state would become like a desert.
He said that shrinking land holdings, escalating population and injudicious use of pesticides were some of the other challenges facing the state today. The deputy cm suggested the PAU scientists to produce seeds of crops, which require minimum water, encourage farm diversification, and motivate farmers to make optimal use of water and pesticides. "The state government is coming out with a new policy on agriculture," he said, adding that one of the top priorities of investment in Punjab would be agri-processing.
"My father is attached to agriculture and PAU. To save farmers and compete globally in terms of agriculture, we need to take PAU to higher levels," he said.
The deputy CM described the fifty years of PAU as glorious. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) deputy director general (education) Arvind Kumar, who was the guest of honour at the function, said that PAU had played a vital role in promoting technologies, crop varieties and new approaches towards agriculture. "But in contemporary era, a lot need to be done as gross domestic product (GDP) and investment in agriculture is declining," he said.
PAU vice-chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon, meanwhile, spoke on the achievements of PAU in research, academic and extension activities. He went on to narrate PAU's history. "It was on October 17, 1963, that PN Thapar joined as the first vice-chancellor of the PAU," he said.
"It is unarguably the mother of green revolution, which started from Punjab," he said, adding that the university had produced great stalwarts, including 39 vice-chancellors and a chancellor of different universities across the country.
At PAU's anniversary, Ramoowalia talks politics
Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, the founder of Lok Bhalai Party, which later merged with the Shiromani Akali Dal, commented on Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's statement on youth and drugs in Punjab.
At PAU, he said: "Rahul's words do not reflect concern but only make mockery of Punjab and its people. His hidden intention is to pass satirical comments on our state and its people."
He added that the report to which Gandhi was referring to - terming 70% youth in Punjab as drug addicts - had been misinterpreted. "The report says that from the overall drug consumers in Punjab, 70% are youth. It does not say that 70% of the youth of the state are drug addicts."
He termed the abduction of 16-year Shurti in Faridkot as an "unfortunate incident".
"Neither police and nor politicians are at fault. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Scotland Yard are unable to crackdown every case in time," he said. "We assure you that the case will be solved but it will take some time."