TWO-DAY ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE OF VCs/DIRECTORs OF AGRICULTURAL AND TECHNICAL UNIVERSITIES held jointly by IAUAand AIU at NAAS Auditorium NASC, Pusa Campus, New Delhi on 19-20 July 2005
This was the first time in history that such an event was jointly organized by IAUA and AIU under ICAR sponsorship on the 19 and 20 July 2005 at IAUA, NASC, Pusa Campus, New Delhi, especially when IARI is celebrating the 100th year of its existence. In this conference, agricultural and technical universities participated. The meet was presided over by Prof. Vachaspati Upadhyaya, President, AIU and the Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Sharad Pawar, was the Chief Guest.
Dr. Dayanand Dongaonkar, Secretary-General, AIU, in his welcome address, stressed the fact that despite having wasted away the strong agricultural tradition of Taxila and Nalanda, the Indian farmer still retains his wisdom. The only thing needed at present is to give the farming community a new orientation to transform India into an agricultural power.
Dr Mangala Rai, Secretary DARE & DG ICAR, Guest of Honour of the event, welcomed the initiative and strongly indicated the need of intense interaction among agricultural and technical universities by chalking out various areas of collaboration, among which molecular biology, taxonomy were prominent. He laid stress on the deteriorating status of basic science research in higher education, demanding co-ordinated efforts.
Dr S. L. Mehta, VC, MPUAT, Udaipur, presented the theme paper on "research linkages between agricultural and technical universities", indicating the thrust areas of collaboration. He added that agriculture constitutes 60% of our labour force, 21.7% of GDP and 11 % of our total exports. He pointed out some important areas where collaborative activities with technical universities could be feasible. These are biotechnology, mechanization of agriculture, renewable sources of energy, water resources and watershed development, weather and disaster management, climate change, crop modeling, information technology and knowledge empowerment. Controlling diseases, precision in agriculture in having farm dynamic experimentation, decision-support system and management marketing of agricultural products and agribusiness management are the other areas.
Prof. G. N. Tiwari, Department of Energy Studies, IIT, Delhi, presented a paper on the designing of green-house and PV based irrigation system. He talked about effective use of solar energy for the benefit of farmers.
Dr J. C. Katyal, DDG (Edn) pointed out the undertaken themes, identification of the project having common goals, collaboration, shared vision and clear undertaking. He said that the needs of agriculture and technical universities are to be assessed before embarking on any collaborative activity. He put before the audience four important core issues that need to be addressed on priority, viz. (i) To lift trade barriers in WTO and the trade-related property rights (ii) bio-technology, which can be cost effective to produce food, dealing with pest and diseases taking into consideration bio-safety and bio-ethics; (iii) information technology and its full utilization to make Indian Agriculture competitive, and (iv) environment management.
Prof Vachaspati Upadhyaya, in his presidential address, highlighted the technology of ancient days and wished that the universities present at the roundtable would come out with some concrete suggestions to integrate teaching, research and extension, to enable the students to have access to other universities for utilizing their potential and infrastructure. The universities, especially, should play a catalytic role to help the farmers in marketability and profitability of agricultural products. He was concerned about the migration of rural population to urban areas in search of white-collar jobs, creating a vacuum in the Indian Agricultural scenario.
The Minister, in his inaugural address, thanked the IAUA and AIU for having taken the initiative to come together in bringing to a common platform two most important pillars of national development, i.e. technology and agriculture. He said when agriculture succeeds, everything follows. He stressed the role of biotechnology, molecular biology and information technology for enhancing agricultural output. He laid stress on sensitizing the agricultural and technical universities to take up collaborative project influencing and improving the rural community. He assured to extend full cooperation and support for forming a Research Coordination Committee at national level.
Nanotechnology was also discussed, as were patent rights.
A research coordination committee was formed, consisting of Chairman (President, AIU) Co-Chairmaii (President, IAUA), 2 VCs from SAUs, 2 Directors (1 each from IIT and 1 from NUT), 1 VC from State technical university, 2 VCs from general universities, 1 VC from deemed technical university, 1 VC from deemed agricultural university, 1 member from the ICAR, 1 from UGC, 1 from AICTE, and the Convenor, (Secretary-General, AIU).
The committee would meet half yearly with the same type of round-table, and its next meeting would be held at UAS, Dharwad, on 20-21 January 2006.