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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Pak Punjab CM's visit this year's highlight of PAU

Ravinder Vasudeva , Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, December 28, 2013
First Published: 23:41 IST(28/12/2013) | Last Updated: 23:43 IST(28/12/2013)

 Recognitions, accomplishments, activities pertaining to academics, research and the controversies remained the major highlights of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

The varsity continued to deal with financial crunch throughout the year and the research was hit badly due to paucity of funds.

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Though the varsity witnessed new appointments to various administrative posts, retirements of senior officials, release of new crop varieties, holding of Kisan Melas across Punjab, upward trend in the enrollment of students, establishment of bio-control laboratories, visits by foreign delegations, strengthening of national and international linkages, and organisation of conferences, trainings, workshops and seminars at state as well as national level.

But it remained in controversies due to giving appointment on key posts to the 'favourites' and the ones close to the SAD government.

The varsity also witnessed one of the strongest students' struggle in August over the issue of suspension of three students without any strong grounds. The varsity had to review its decision with the increasing pressure put in by the chief minister of Punjab (Pakistan), Shahbaz Shariff, who was given a rousing welcome at PAU in December this year and his visit to the campus could boost agricultural prospects of PAU.

The Punjab (India) chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, gifted a standard combine harvester machine to Janab Shariff and the PAU V-C, BS Dhillon presented a maize dehusker machine to the Punjab (Pakistan) CM.

In its achivements, the PAU signed an MoU with Gujarat State Seed Corporation (GSSC) for developing and commercialising cotton transgenic hybrids.

It also collaborated with Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Shimla, to intensify research on potato improvement in the state.
 
New Varieties developed

The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) developed and recommended new crop varieties for general cultivation in the state. The varieties include, "PR 121" and "PR 122" of 'A' grade paddy; "Punjab Basmati 3" and "Pusa Punjab Basmati 1509" of basmati rice; "PBW 658"  of wheat; "PMH 7" of maize;  "HG 365" of guar; "Punjab Tej" and "Punjab Sindhuri" of chilli; "PBH 3" of brinjal; "Daisy" and "W Murcott" of citrus; "Shweta" of guava; "Punjab Glad I" of gladiolus; and "Punjab Purple Wave" and "Punjab Choco Gold" of pansy.

The Department of food science and technology, PAU, developed an instant porridge using whole grain flour of food grains such as wheat, maize, grams, soybean, barley and oats. It is packed in 250gm packet and its price is `50. For the prevention of diabetes, the PAU came up with a multi-grain atta (flour) for diabetics. The product is a blend of six cereals with different bio-chemical compositions, essential for nutritional security.

Students' accomplishments

Four PhD students of the PAU, including Amandeep K Sandhu (plant breeding and genetics), Amandeep Kaur (plant breeding and genetics), Dharminder Bhatia (plant breeding and genetics), and Mitaly Bansal (biotechnology), bagged the fellowships under Monsanto's Beachell Borlaug International Scholars Programme for the four consecutive years i.e. 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively.

A world renowned rice breeder, Dr Gurdev Singh Khush eulogised the PAU students for these rare distinctions and wrote in his message, "No other University in the world has bagged more than two awards."

Shalini Agnihotri, PAU alumna, was honoured with the "Best Indian Police Service (IPS) officer trainee award" at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad.

Another alumna of the University, Dr Gulab Pandove, presently working as a teaching assistant in the department of microbiology, fetched the prestigious "Jawaharlal Nehru Award" for her outstanding doctoral thesis research. She also received "Post-doctoral fellowship for women scheme 2011-12" from UGC.

Khushmeet Bains, an MSc (Botany) student, got the prestigious "National youth award 2011-12" in recognition of her illustrious service in the field of education and for helping the slum children. She was also awarded with the "Shaheed-e-Aazam Bhagat Singh State Youth Award" for her active participation in the youth activities.

Highs:
Visits by Pakistan Punjab CM Shabaz Sharif, which may increase chances of collaboration of PAU with Pakistan Punjab.
Great success in developing new varities of vegetables.
Successful organisation of kisan melas throughout the state.
PAU's collaboration with Moscow varsity to work together on agriculture.
MS Randhawa library provided wi-fi facility to the students in all the reading halls; access to fourteen online databases, and students can now subscribe to 39 online journals and 51 e-books.
New courses introduced.


Lows:
Financial mess - Even monthly salries of the staff were delayed every month.
Controversities in appointment of teachers on key posts. Even juniors were made head of the deprtment bypassing seniors.
Varsity failed miserably to motivte farmers to end burning of paddy straw.
No new major appointments in teaching staff. Research hit badly because of increasing thrust of the varsity on opening new courses.
Shortage of hostles for both boys and girls continued.
Merger of PAU advisory centres with Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) depite objections by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
Mishandling of student agitation.

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