Two former vice-chancellors of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) -- Dr KS Aulakh and Dr MS Kang -- have failed to find a place in the state government's invitation list for the Progressive Punjab Agricultural Summit, scheduled to be held at Chappar Chiri in SAS Nagar on February 16 and 17. Both had fallen out with the Badal government during their tenures.
The summit is an initiative taken by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for which chief ministers of 10 states besides national and international experts on agriculture have been invited.
The move has not only created a buzz in national agriculture circles but has also invited criticism from Indian researchers and scientists settled abroad.
Dr Kang, a plant geneticist, is currently an adjunct professor at the department of plant pathology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA. Chief minister Badal had specially called Dr Kang in 2007 from the US to take over as the vice-chancellor to which Dr Kang had readily agreed. Dr Kang was the vice-chancellor from April 2007 to April 2011.
However, the state government, including the chief minister and deputy chief minister, reportedly did not approve of the "straightforward and transparent" approach adopted by Dr Kang and started sidelining him.
When contacted, he expressed annoyance over the state of affairs saying, "This is not a question of whether I have been invited or not; what matters is the right approach and seriousness with which the state government wants to address all arenas related to agriculture, including diversification and advancement."
Dr Kang, who has been invited by the South African Plant Breeders' Association on March 8 to deliver a lecture, said it was ironic that his state was not ready to take his services while he was being invited to give expert opinion on agricultural issues in other countries. "I had come to India with a purpose -- to contribute to the initiatives to be taken towards progressive agricultural practices but it seems the policymakers here do not need my services," said Dr Kang.
Similarly, Dr Aulakh, who was the vice-chancellor prior to Dr Kang, has also not been invited. Dr Aulakh had to step down reportedly owing to his confrontation with chief minister Badal over the issue of opening of a gate at the PAU for thoroughfare.
Dr Aulakh told HT that he had recently received invitations from various universities and Indian Council of Agricultural Research but not from the Punjab government for the summit.