Two former vice-chancellors of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) along with a noted agricultural economist, who had initially failed to get an invitation for the four-day Progressive Punjab Agricultural Summit being organised at Chappar Chiri (SAS Nagar) from February 16 to 19, have refused to accept 'delayed' invites.
Omission of the names of former V-Cs Manjit Singh Kang and Kirpal Singh Aulakh and agricultural economist Sardara Singh Johl was far from being a "slip-up" as has been claimed by the state government. Rather, it was a deliberate move to keep them away from the agricultural summit.
Hindustan Times had carried out reports on February 13 and 14 pointing towards the state government's highhandedness in leaving out the above-said individuals as they had "fallen out" with the government in the past.
Interestingly, the invites to these experts have been sent to PAU.
MS Kang, while reacting to the invite, stated, "It's too little and too late. I have made other plans and am leaving for ICAR research centre, near Varanasi, to chair a meeting of National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Organisms (NBAIM)."
Expressing his annoyance, Sardara Singh Johl refused to attend the summit, saying, "Eh invitation ta mang ke litta hoya hei is layi mein nahi jaana summit te" (This was a forced invitation and I refuse to accept it). I am committed to attend a meeting outside Punjab."
Johl termed the summit as another futile exercise, which, he claimed, would end up wasting more time of the experts. "Committees have been constituted in the past also and the reports are gathering dust as policy disconnect is the actual problem. However, against all odds I will eagerly wait for some positive outcome as some brilliant experts are attending the conclave," Johl went on to add.
KS Aulakh, too, has turned down the invitation terming it as a formality on the part of the state government. "It is high time the political master realised that once the procedures are laid down and commitments are made, implementation is the only key to the answers. Unfortunately, the state government rarely practices what it promises and preaches," added Aulakh.
Professor emeritus, Panjab University, Harjinder Singh Shergill, who carried a study on rural indebtedness in Punjab; agriculture economist and director general of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Sucha Singh Gill; Lakhwinder Singh, head, centre for development economics and innovation, Punjabi University.
Eminent plant breeder Dr GS Khush, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) director general Dr Ayyappan; Dr GS Kang, former director, Central Potato Research Station, Dehradun; Central Inland Fisheries Institute, Kolkata, former director Dr KK Vass, minister for agriculture, Saskatchewan, Canada, Lyle Eldon Stewart.