Science under siege

Agricultural science has ossified in India. Despite a vast network of public research institutions and agriculture universities across the country, nothing of significance has emerged from this system to galvanise farming in recent decades, barring perhaps new strains of basmati rice. Weak basic research, excessive centralisation and control of the national research system by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research are the root cause for this state of affairs but underpinning it all are harmful government policies rooted in ensuring food security. Caught in these bureaucratic rigidities are the science and scientists. Lax standards, poor monitoring and unpunished scientific fraud have destroyed ambitious research projects and shaken the morale of the public research system, find Latha Jishnu and Jyotika Sood

By Latha Jishnu, Jyotika Sood
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

Science under siege


Subbanna Ayyappan has recently returned from a trip to one of the farthest outposts of his vast empire. He flew to Guwahati, from there drove to Tezpur and then to Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh, where the National Research Centre on Yak is located. The last lap was a tortuous climb to Nyukmadung at an altitude of 2,750 metres where the Dirang centre has its yak farm. Ayyappan, director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), confesses he was “a little out of breath” during the last stretch of the journey.

The Dirang centre is engaged in making sure the yak numbers do not decline and it is illustrative of ICAR’s mandate. Practically every farm animal, from the mithun, the unique bovine species of the Northeast, to the pig has been accorded its own research centre or a project directorate, like every crop from litchi to sorghum. It all adds up to 98 institutes of one kind or the other, institutes that have been set up or were subsumed by ICAR after it was given control over all research institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture in 1966. As a result, ICAR boasts one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world, if not the largest.


As the apex organisation for coordinating education and managing research and its application in agriculture, agro-forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries and allied sciences, the council has an exhaustive and curious collection of institutes and project directorates dedicated to the study of such things as foot-and-mouth disease and weed science.

In addition to 95 research institutes, ICAR funds and oversees some 56 state agricultural universities (SAUs), apart from four deemed universities and one Central Agricultural University for the north-eastern region. Together these constitute the national agriculture research system or NARS. It is a huge enterprise involving some 24,000 scientists, of whom close to 4,800 are with ICAR institutes and directorates; the rest are with the universities. It is a research establishment that dwarfs the number of laboratories its counterpart in industrial research, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, boasts.


What has all this contributed to India’s agriculture? The typical response of the ICAR top brass is to reel off a long list of successes that focuses on the improved crop varieties that have led to greater food security in the country, the jump in production of vegetables, eggs and milk. Rice and wheat, predictably, are the starred items in this report card, with the Pusa Basmati varieties topping the list. Critics tend to dismiss this as “repetitive and ritualistic applied research” but the ICAR chief insists the increase in food production from 50 million tonnes in 1950 to the current 259 million tonnes has to be seen as the “most beneficial contribution of R&D not just in the form of improved food security but in total factor productivity”.

The fact of the matter is that ICAR has no choice in this matter. “Cereals are a high-volume, low-value commodity. We have been mandated with researching these and we are doing it. They are the basics for food security in the country,” explains Ayyappan. In sum, development of crop varieties (open pollinated seed that can be reused) is left to the public research system, while private companies focus on hybrids (see charts), which is where the money is to be made since hybrids have to be bought afresh for each sowing.


Ayyappan is from the Agriculture Research Service, a special cadre of scientists created in 1973, and has been with ICAR for close to 35 years. This true blue product of NARS has made history of sorts by becoming the first non-crop scientist—he is a fisheries expert—to head this sprawling network. That is something he takes pride in, but his tenure has come at a time when agricultural science in the country is battling serious problems of relevance and integrity.

The director general is the first to admit that the current challenges to Indian farming are tremendous, almost unprecedented. Soil degradation and fatigue have been plateauing yields in major crops since the 1990s, and looming over all this are the hazards of climate change, to which Indian farming is particularly susceptible. “The weakness of the system is that it is not prepared for the coming challenges and needs time to build its responses,” he admits candidly. “There will always be some unexpected disaster from biotic and abiotic stresses.”

Subbanna AyyappanWorse, for Ayyappan, have been the unethical practices of some leading scientists. A series of research scandals that had been gestating for long blew up in his face just as he took office in January 2010, leaving him to look for ways to salvage the reputation and credibility of the system that had taken a knock globally. The first of these unsavoury events involved the prestigious National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology, along with a leading academic institution, the University of Agricultural Sciences-Dharwad, and top-ranking scientists of ICAR (see ‘Untangling India’s Bt cotton fraud’, February 1-15, 2012; ‘Cleaning the cotton stain’, February 16-29, 2012; ‘ICAR’s shoddy science’, January 1-15, 2013, Down To Earth)

That episode involving research of over 10 years to create a public sector Bt or genetically modified (GM) cotton was supposed to herald India’s entry into the hi-tech league. But soon after its commercial release in 2009 there was gloom in the scientific establishment. India’s “completely indigenous Bt variety”, the Bikaneri Narma (BN Bt), failed and was withdrawn after one season. In fact, it turned out no gene, as claimed, had been developed by the public research project, launched under the World Bank-funded National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) that pumped $200 million into NARS along with a grant of $50 million from the Indian government.

Swapan Kumar DattaIndia’s foray into GM crop research appears to have gone nowhere. The tragedy is that the research bungling, to put a kinder inference on this discreditable episode, was investigated only after unseemly details about the cotton project were made public by some rival scientists who had filed right to information (RTI) petitions on the project and leaked the details to the media. That no action has been taken more than one-and-a-half years after the fraud came to light has resulted in a deep sense of betrayal and a deepening sense of cynicism among young scientists (see ‘Lies, exposes and cover-ups’,).

But the scandals are just part of the problem. Many see NARS as a sclerotic organisation incapable of undertaking the research challenges before the country. A reason for this can be found in the way ICAR functions. The director general functions concurrently as secretary to the Department of Agriculture Research and Education of the Ministry of Agriculture. The post was created in 1974, ostensibly to smooth the interface of the autonomous ICAR with the policy-makers in Delhi’s Krishi Bhavan, ministry headquarters. But this has created an anomalous situation for ICAR, which although set up as a registered society functions as an adjunct of the government.

imageLack of original thinking and encouragement for out-of-the-box ideas for problem solving is an underlying cause of the rot in agri-science. “Almost all institutions build their research programmes on previous routine projects based on inputs from scientists and there are hardly any attempts to push towards pathbreaking science,” points out the director of a national crop research centre. He believes lack of “think-tank” to prioritise “immediate national challenges” and envisage “long-term research investment” at the national level is a major reason agri-science is going nowhere. Currently, prioritisation is carried out at the institutional level within the allocated budget, which has become a self-defeating exercise. Another is the “wasting of scientific talent by scattering many young talented scientists across less important institutes which cannot harness their potential.”

imageThe problems that beset NARS were summed up best by Dayanatha Jha, a scholar who wrote on the problems of R&D in agricultural research more than a decade ago. “Any scientist in ICAR will endorse that bureaucracy and associated evils are the root cause of inefficiency. Obstructive rules and procedures, complete absence of accountability, stifling centralisation, lack of a performance-based incentive system and monitoring and evaluation processes, are some examples.”

This is why scientist G V Ramanjaneyulu, who worked with ICAR from 1996 to 2003, quit the organisation to do something more meaningful. Ramanjaneyulu was working with the Directorate of Oilseeds in Hyderabad at a time of increasing reports of suicides by farmers. He says that’s when he took the decision to leave a well paying job where no questions were asked about non-performance. “I didn’t find much scope to work as the system was caught up in a technology-driven framework. There was also lot of inbreeding depression within the system as it was closed to learning anything from what was happening on the ground.”


Ramanjaneyulu took the plunge and set up the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Hyderabad which works with farmers. Interestingly, the issue of farmers’ suicides, which has now crossed a mind-numbing figure of 285,000, has never figured in any discussion in ICAR nor in any of the SAUs. Nor have they researched the agro-ecological approaches tried by farmers who are tired of the unsustainable nature of the heavily input-driven model of farming promoted by NARS, laments the scientist. The fact is that none of these models, even the non-pesticide management method that has spread across Andhra Pradesh, has been studied in detail by ICAR, although its own assessment reports show that such models bring in ecological and economic benefit to farmers. “Now several of us working in and outside NARS are forming a professional society to publish a peer reviewed journal on agro-ecology,” he says.

imageIs there growing disillusionment with agricultural science promoted by NARS? Rajeswari Raina, economist and principal scientist with the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (Nistads), thinks so. Raina, who has closely tracked agricultural science in India and written extensively on it, says, “The agri-research system refuses to respond to the fact that the contribution of agriculture to the national GDP has been declining steadily. It is 15.8 per cent and is expected to slide to 8.5 per cent by 2015.”


There are emerging tensions between the research system and government. The Eleventh Five Year Plan had sought a (surprising) change in the direction and research content of NARS to make a dent in poverty, hunger, malnutrition and the environment: “Thus far, research has tended to focus mostly on increasing the yield potential by more intensive use of water and biochemical inputs. Far too little attention has been given to the long-term environmental impact or on methods and practices for the efficient use of these inputs for sustainable agriculture. These features are widely known but efforts to correct them have not been adequate; at any rate they have not made much of a difference.”

  • Private sector accounts for 80 per cent turnover in seed
  • Almost a third of these companies have a global technology/financial partner
  • Private seed companies are spending 10-12 per cent of their turnover on R&D
  • R&D budget of medium-sized companies is growing at 20 per cent annually. It has 100 per cent of the vegetable seed market for chilli, tomato, watermelon, gourds, brinjal and okra

Source: R S Paroda and National Seed Association of India (NSAI)

imageThis, says an old-time scientist, is “a complete turnaround by the state”, which had itself encouraged such research and promoted policies that have focused almost entirely on increasing cereal production (rice and wheat, in particular) and provided subsidies that have degraded the environment to an alarming degree.

And the twelfth plan approach paper is even more critical. It says: “Public sector technology generation often fails to take into account farmers’ needs, perceptions and location specific conditions for each crop, leading to significant gaps between the varieties released by public sector institutions and the number of varieties actually used by the farmers. Private sector research and the seed industry often focus on those crops and varieties which have adequate scale (massive markets) and scope (repeated sales). As a result, some crops/crop groups get little research attention. This phenomenon is most visible in predominantly rainfed crops like pulses and some oilseeds, which are in crying need for a technological breakthrough.” The irony, though, is that the Centre is again perpetuating the mistakes of the Green Revolution by transplanting the same policies in the eastern region.

Increasing imports of cooking oils and pulses reflect a certain failure even in the traditional lines of research followed by NARS. H S Gupta, director of IARI, explains, “The Green Revolution focused on cereals and since there was already a way forward in wheat and rice with dwarfing gene we progressed very fast. Pulses did not enjoy that kind of research intensity and were also relegated to marginal lands.”


How NARS will meet the coming challenges is a tough question. Years of repetitive research and a fossilised syllabus in SAUs have cramped the system’s ability to be nimble. One crippling deficiency is shortage of scientists and a marked lack of specialisation in critical disciplines such as genomics. The sanctioned strength for scientists is 6,470; as of last year 4,745 posts had been filled. According to ICAR sources, at any given time 30 per cent of the posts remain vacant.


But above all is the question of funds. While ICAR’s R&D budget has increased from Rs 1,760 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 3,415 crore for the current year, there is huge disappointment with the funds allocated by the government for the twelfth plan.

“Everybody knows that our budget is very small,” says Swapan Kumar Datta, deputy director general, crop sciences, ICAR. “In the Twelfth Five Year Plan we demanded Rs 50,000 crore but got only Rs 25,000 crore. That is Rs 25,000 for five years for close to 100 institutions and 56 agri-universities!” Datta, unlike Ayyappan, is a lateral recruit. He joined ICAR in 2009 after working for 20 years in institutes in Europe, and he chafes at the bureaucratic controls.

Shortage of funds is a gnawing issue for the plant biotechnologist. “If I have to develop a big platform on genomics I would need Rs 10,000 crore. That is big money. I need to develop that platform today but the money is not available.”


The head of crop sciences division is a powerful satrap with 12 national institutes, nine project directorates, three bureaus and two national research centres under his control. In addition, 27 all-India coordinated research projects and India-wide network projects are under his supervision, and in ICAR he is viewed as the man to watch. But as yet he has done little to shake up the system, although he is known to have said openly that “science can’t be done the way we are working”.

How this small pie is shared among the many research institutes is also a sore point. The Dirang centre, for one, gets Rs 6 crore per year for the current plan period, not different from what research centres on major crops receive. Likewise, there is little to show that funding is based on the importance of a crop to the farming community. Take what cotton research received in the past 12 years. The plan fund—the allocation for research (contingencies, works, renovation, equipment)—was about Rs 25 crore. External funding from the department of biotechnology, the World Bank’s NATP and its newer avatar National Agriculture Innovation Project (NAIP), added another Rs 6-7 crore. This has given rise to resentment among scientists who question the rationale for allocations. Criteria such as economic importance of the crop, employment potential and emerging challenges should determine budget allocation. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

India’s GM cotton revolution has bypassed the public sector, while private companies are raking in huge profits as cotton farmers take almost entirely to the GM hybrids developed by private Indian companies and multinationals. US technology provider Monsanto has harvested a reported Rs 2,000 crore in royalty rates from these firms.

“Cotton,” says an agriculture ministry official, “is a good example of what is happening in agriculture science. Pitted against companies with a turnover of Rs 4,000 crore, our research has faltered and fallen by the wayside.”

If agriculture fails nothing will succeed, warns the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ (NAAS’) president R B Singh who has been campaigning for an overhaul of the research system. ICAR, he says, needs to be transformed to ensure integration of activities and sub-systems. “Accountability is the need of the time. There was seriousness of purpose in our time. Scientific temper was high in those early days when we were taking the best of science to agriculture.”

In short, the siege mentality has to end.


Linkage between science and public policy has weakened
MS-SwaminathanM S Swaminathan, popularly known as the father of India’s Green Revolution, has been associated with national agricultural research system (NARS) since 1947 when he was a student at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). After getting PhD from Cambridge University, he joined IARI, of which he became director, and then director general of ICAR.

A believer in the need to articulate clear, goal-oriented research, Swaminathan tells Latha Jishnu what has changed since his time. Excerpts

Can you tell us how research priorities have changed?

Research is always dynamic and, therefore, priorities will change over time. In the 1950s and ’60s, our major goal was improving crop productivity. Currently, the emphasis should be on improving the income of farmers as well as the environmental sustainability of agronomic technologies. I see two changes: in the linkage between science and public policy, which was very close, and in the strong relation between the scientist and farmers, where the former would go to the farmer’s field and demonstrate the technology.

How did this linkage become weaker?

One reason is that scientists don’t express their views. Today the GM debate is going on and you hardly find scientists from ICAR, the top most institute, talking about GM science. They should express their views. In 2004, I suggested an All India Coordinated Research Project on biosafety. Today there are over 1,000 (GM cotton) hybrids and farmers are confused. ICAR should have forced all companies to test under bio-safety precautions.

Is it because scientists are scared?

Yes, it is about being a government servant. In our time our strength was communication with the media. When the whole world was saying ‘these guys are going to fail in Green Revolution’, Indian media was saying the opposite because I got them to the field.

How the research environment changed?

Scientists today are better paid and laboratories are better equipped. A sense of complacency has set in; there is no longer the pressure to do something urgently to improve the wellbeing of farm families.

Has the quality of scientific manpower changed significantly since your time?

The quality of scientific manpower varies widely from institution to institution. Most of the agricultural universities have become highly inbred. Appointments to senior positions are also made on the basis of political influence. There is more emphasis on bricks than brains. Achievements are measured by the number of buildings built and money spent and not by the improvement in the wellbeing of farm and fisher families.

There is a general perception that ICAR’s role and research has declined. Do you agree?

ICAR has not declined in terms of money but there is a need to strengthen national research system and not hand over our responsibility to international institutions. There must be well-defined milestones. When I was in IARI we had small groups and we had a very clear idea about what has to be done. There were clear goals, five-year plans and we got results.

The Chinese appear to have done much better than us.

The Chinese have done a much better job because they are able to generate team-based and focused work. They also have a strong bond between scientists and farmers. In a small way such bonds were developed during the Cultural Revolution, but have now become organic and ingrained in the system. This is why China could spread technologies like hybrid rice very fast.

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  • Pretty well covered. It is

    Pretty well covered. It is perfect example of how a system which looks near perfect on paper fails almost completely to deliver at ground. Just to add, agriculture is pretty much a local affair and hence research in agriculture should also focus on local needs and conditions. Even adaptation of simple technology like a new tillage equipment would require proper analysis of soil type, what farmers potentially want to grow and how much they can spend on it. And that's where we fail. Our academic research is too inspired by what is being done in developed countries. For example when we need simple technologies to minimize post harvest losses, our scientists are busy working on things like 'High Pressure Processing'. This approach helps in publishing papers but fails to deliver at ground.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Very bold and open article

    Very bold and open article exposing the missing link between Farmers and AgriculturalResearchers and Extension People. No doubt we have one of the chain of best laboratories under ICAR and some of the best scientists in the world. How is it that agriculture has become a part time as opposed to prestigious occupation earlier. The agricultural scientists are not aware of the needs of the farmers. I myself identified many problems and addressed them to all leading laboratories under ICAR since 4 decades. Many a times not even an acknowledgement. We can learn many things from China,Taiwan,Korea etc.
    Development experiences of the last decades have shown that human resources development is essential for food security and market integration. Achieving sustainable agricultural development is less based on material inputs (e.g. seeds and fertilizer) than on the people involved in their use. This focus on human resources calls for increased knowledge and information sharing about food production.
    New agricultural technologies are generated by research institutes, universities, private companies, and by the farmers themselves. Agricultural extension services are expected to disseminate them among their clients, but due to poor linkages between research and extension the adoption of new agricultural technologies by farmers in the developing world is often very slow and research is not focussing on the actual needs of farmers. In many countries the insufficient agricultural development has been attributed, among other factors, to poor linkages between Research-Extension-Farmers and to ineffective technology delivery systems, including poor information packaging and lack of communication systems.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • It is unfortunate that the

    It is unfortunate that the article mentions "Ironically, Ananda KumarÔÇÖs involvement in the GM cotton fraud was investigated by a committee---". It appears that the authors of the article have not carefully read the Expert Committee Report which was placed in the ICAR website. The report only says about my involvement on Page 9 as "On his part the PI did not perform the duties of overall coordination, monitoring and filling in the gaps that are normally expected of the PI". It cannot be labelled as fraud. I was overall PI of the project that had seven components each of which was handled by an independent PI. Bt-Cotton was worked upon at UAS, Dharwad and CICR, Nagpur but not at NRCPB. In addition, the project operated from 1999 to 2004 when my involvement ended. Problems related to the contamination and other issues cropped up from 200 5 onwards, which were thoroughly investigated by the committee.

    Best regards

    P. Ananda Kumar , Ph.D, FAvHS, FNAAS, FNAS, FABP
    Institute of Biotechnology
    Rajendra Nagar
    Hyderabad 500 030
    A.P., India
    Phone: 091-40-24015011 X 386
    Mobile: 09701032323

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • More or less on these lines I

    More or less on these lines I presented an article [Chapter in a book titled "Current Environmental Issues" published in 2003 by Madhu Publications, Bikaner] titled "Evolution of Seed Technology, Biotechnology" pages 139-158.

    From Dr. M. S. Swaminathan as DG onwards most of the DGs are not looked at farmer and his socio-economics or food security or nutrition secusity aspects. They are mostly looking at commercial interests -- businessmen interests. Dr. M. S. Swaminathan appears has changed his priorities now a days!!!

    Still Indian farmers are looking at "Rain God" as around 60% is rainfed. The research institutions neglected this area -- government & ICAR. They are looking at increasing yield per hectare under chemical inputs & irrigation at huge costs. Yet, they are least bothered on the quality of fodder, which in affect reduced drastically the animal husbandry component.

    Thus, this system severely affected the environment and farmers security. Under traditional mixed cropping fodder helped the animal husbandry that was part of socio-economic-food security - nutrition security of farming community as well rural population.

    Even with so much thrust on chemical inputs technology, our research institutes failed to build the gap between Research farm yields and farmers field. Intially to push the technology, the research institutions inflated the yields but they never achieved this in farmers fields. Thus, cost of production gone up multifold level.

    Research priorities are not looking at farmer but looking at Western MNCs to meet their greed. Though progressive farmers showed the path how to increase yield and quality of food & fodder -- they received national and international recognition -- the government failed to encourage such inventions through stabilizing & through extension services.

    Many research institutes including CRIDA, ICRISAT, etc, bent on survival research. They brought in new concept of climate change resilliance a time pass research to get promotions through number of trash publications.

    The main issue here is that we need an institution free from political bungling and research priorities must be farmer oriented rather than business oriented and then only farmer as well country show progress in agriculture. Our agriculture institutions must change???

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • I find the title of this

    I find the title of this article a bit alarmist, yes there are bad apples in the ICAR basket of scientists, but there are some very good ones as well, some scientists are doing excellent work at par with the global mainstream.

    There are a few scientists whose misdemeanor have brought bad name to ICAR, but it would be unfair to paint entire ICAR with the colour of these few individuals, in the media you find the misdeeds of the "same" set of people over and over again. Where top management of ICAR has failed, is to take stern action against these people so that it may act as a deterrent for other people to indulge in such activities and restore some good faith back in ICAR. One more thing Agricultural Research is not just about Biotechnology, yes it might be the in thing, but it is not the only thing, there are so many area in agriculture where research is going on and many unsung heroes are doing an appreciable job.

    Though it is true that ICAR has huge scope for improvement but it is not doing a very bad job considering the kind of inputs it gets, one must understand ICAR is not a factory, where you can calculate the ROI and profitability by doing an analysis of revenue and cost. Research is an ongoing activity which may or may not always lead to path breaking discoveries. India contributes to the CG fund and in the CG system an IRS is paid 5 - 8 times the salary that people in ICAR are paid, hence if at all the argument is made that india spends too much on Agricultural Scientists, they first should say India should stop contributing to the CG fund as there the cost per scientist is several folds higher.

    Another aspect which must be factored in is that ICAR is a public institution. And it is one harsh reality in india that Public sector institutions are not merely viewed as agencies to carry out a specific task but also an avenue for achieving social security and affirmative action through employment, these considerations also affect the system which prospers only with meritocracy. I believe affirmative action is necessary in society and so is representation of every class and caste in the administration of Indian State, but this is one area which should be purely skill based.
    The quality of scientists in ICAR is a reflection of honesty and competence in ASRB, in the last few years, that area has seen a decline. Political, Cronyism, Favouritism, Casteism and Regionalism based considerations seem to have led to this decline. The rot at the top has a trickledown effect. The feeling that only people who have connections with politicians and bureaucrats in krishi bhavan can get promoted and assume leadership roles in ICAR is very prevalent. It is widely believed that there is cronyism involved in certain selections as well. When a young ARS enters the system they are full of idealism, once they enter and see what really counts to climb up the ladder they tend to get diverted towards civil services and waste their initial years preparing for UPSC. Another which is prevalent not just in ICAR but across research establishments in India is craze for administrative positions, heads, directors, VCs no matter how useless and intellectually bankrupt they are, are treated as gods. This kind of feudal mindset should be changed.
    Here the role of leadership is critical, the DG, DDGs etc should back their best brains. The leaders in these roles should have the pragmatism and vision to know how to get things done, they should identify the scientist who really have the intent to perform and give them full support and reduce the extent of red tapism that they have to face while working. I have been a close observer of the ICAR and in my opinion the current top leadership of ICAR has some decent people with good intentions, I guess if they could be a bit more assertive they would be able to restore some glory to ICAR. Strong leadership does make a lot of difference. In the end I would just like to say that the silent majority is doing a great job in ICAR. A few one off incident should not be generalized to say that entire Science is under siege, there are deficiencies in the system, but then every system has some of them, even corporate agencies have them.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh You have made

    You have made very good suggestion, liked reading it... until i found that you too have copied large texts from other sources...plagiarism seems to have totally engrossed you!!

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • If we want really to change

    If we want really to change the system, plz in my view promote and check these steps:

    1. Interview should be banished
    2. Written test with enough check and aptitude test for the desired post and promotions.
    3. Full decentralization, only control for administration by the superiors.
    4. Scientist should be free to send the research proposals to any funding organizations, without so called forwarding by the superiors.
    5. The data about the tours and foreign assignment should be openly disclosed and their output too.
    6. There should not be any age bar or even subject bar for the promotions, filtered by written exam.
    7. Head of the divisions should be rotation based.
    8. Students guidance should also be decentralized and lying with the guide.
    9. Field application and resource generation should also be the point for the promotion
    10. The scoring system is fully based on the seniors, not a single points, where scientist can earn independently. It should be abolished at all.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • is agricultural research and

    is agricultural research and industrial research comparable?

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • inbreds and repetitive

    inbreds and repetitive research become jargon words for some of the peoples, I am listening these word since i was student.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Respect R4D, MOTHER KNOWS

    Respect R4D,


    What is required for family ?

    Please don't compare with others

    Focus on Target

    Self policing is enough to achieve better tomorrow.

    Think a little,Start a little,Spend a little,Grow a little land up in infinity.

    Highly acknowledge the research work done by our scientist

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • ICAR has helped in increasing

    ICAR has helped in increasing the food production by launching high yielding varieties during 1970s. Food security was the major issue that time.
    Our country could produce food to feed its population.

    This was possible because of technology, technology transfer mechanisms, policies, etc. All the concerned ministries of India played their roles under the leadership of policy makers.

    Today the situation has changed. The question to sustain of the technology in the green revolution belt has emerged. The effort to extend the green revolution to eastern parts of the country is envisioned. Post harvest technology is getting more importance considering the losses in the supply chain. There is a threat to the climate. Horticulture, livestock and fisheries need to be promoted further.

    For all such efforts need a change in the mindset of the policy makers, researchers and extension professional. Today the Extension Professional are with biology background, though the Extension Education is an Applied Social Science. The social issues, like Community Organization of small farmers in the forms of SHGs, Cooperative Societies, Producer Companies, Participatory Approaches, Partnership Approaches, Micro Finance, Marketing Co-management, etc. are becoming more important than than Transfer of Technology methods, like Demonstration, Exposure Visits and Training on technologies. For such social issues the Departments of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries do not have specialized persons. ICAR systems too do not have such scientists. Even if they are there they are in small numbers, mostly busy in organizing technical training, advisory services and exhibitions.

    Should we not introspect and refine the system so that it addresses the current issues more effectively?

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • This feature is not about the

    This feature is not about the ÔÇÿmisdemeanoursÔÇÖ of a few scientists but about the failure of the system as a whole to address the agrarian crisis. As you very correctly point out, there are a few bad apples in every system. That is not the central point here. My question is why has ICAR with its well-paid scientists failed to understand what is happening in the fields? What has NARS done for dryland agriculture, for the huge majority of our farmers who make their living from rainfed lands? Has there been any introspection on why so many of our farmers take their own their lives? The death of locally relevant research was hastened by centralised command and control system of ICAR in the late 1960s. Ironically, this was reinforced after an inquiry committee looked into the reasons for the suicide of an IARI scientist in 1972 who was protesting against the inequities of the system. Nor has ICAR encouraged SAUs to pursue research on problems afflicting their agro-ecological zones.

    There is a worrying degree of defensiveness and perhaps complacency in claiming that ÔÇ£the silent majority is doing a great job in ICARÔÇØ. Perhaps, they are. Does it translate into anything useful for the farmers? If, indeed, ÔÇ£ many unsung heroes are doing an appreciable jobÔÇØ then surely the results would be there for all to see? However, I do agree entirely with you when you say agriculture research is not just about biotechnology. That, in fact, is a major problem with some ICAR bosses who focus all their energy on railing against the regulatory curbs placed on GM field trials as if there was nothing else to be done in NARS. The shrinking share of ICAR in major crops (pulses, oilseeds, and now cereals) tells its own story.

    My aim was to spur scientists to take pride in the discovery of new knowledge and to fight for an environment conducive to this.

    Latha Jishnu
    Senior Editor,
    Down To Earth

    Posted by: Latha Jishnu | 4 years ago | Reply
  • In kerala, we are suffering

    In kerala, we are suffering from a coconut disease called "Kaatruveezcha".Nothing has been done by the coconut scientists to eradicate the disease.The disease is prevailing since my childhood.Often they show in Amrita TV that a scientist from Kasaragod has identified the organism.Then another day a scientist from USA reports in leading Indian newspapers that all works done are fraud.We, Kerala people are confused who is speaking the truth.Even the current investigative magazine of this article Down to earth reported in 2009-10 that a scientist had made a breakthrough in identifying the pathogen of "Katruveezcha".We are confused who is speaking the truth.I think the general public has the right to know the truths of the scientific investigations as we are funding it.Will Down to Earth will come out with an investigative report on the truths of the "Katruveezcha" research findings.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Indeed a timely and eyeopener

    Indeed a timely and eyeopener to the root cause of crises in the agrarian sector. ICAR history is witness to this humongous expenditure pattern as well as 'no results' syndrome. The flagship programmes of the ministry, namely RKVY, NFSM as also a set of other seven mission modes and ATMA is a clear vindication of this wasteful expenditure that is far removed from the grassroots reralities. This rashtriya kosh se vyarth-vyaya yojana is a 'made in krishi-bhawan' programme that is remotely controlled by a cartel of babus and nodding-scientists in ICAR []. PM in his 83rd ICAR foundation day lecture in 2010 exhorted these scientists to get their research from their one and only client, namely farmers. And how did these scientists respond? By passing a resolution at their conclave completely outwitting PMs pleadings and advice. Hence PM proposes agricultural scientists disposes.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • The main reason for ICARs

    The main reason for ICARs disinterest can be judged from the scientists conclave held in February 2013 at Bhubaneshwar Obviously the agenda setting for national research is done elsewhere beyond the borders in which UN bodies are accomplices. The ICAR and NAAS needs to take these issues raised in the piece more seriously and are answerable to the farmers in this country. During one of the agricultural scientists meet a couple of years ago I was surprised to find blank faces when a simple question of utility of these research to the 120+ million MARGINAL+SMALL farmers was posed for reflection.When agricultural scientists dare to dispose of country's PMs pleadings to get their research from farmers and is so easily ignored the task indeed of transforming the systemic ills is daunting but not impossible. A sure shot remedy for a positive change certainly lies with the young students in the colleges training to be agricultural scientists. Hope they do get to read this incisive essay and make serious engagements both formally and informally.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • They are comparable like

    They are comparable like faceless entities of ANONYMOUS!

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • First of all I applaud Down

    First of all I applaud Down to Earth for producing a wonderful article. After my post graduate in Agriculture, I worked with a fertilizer concern and doing marketing. I was amazed that there is no connection between what was taught and what I saw in field. Private companies were ruling the market, I haven't heard about the pesticides and seeds that are flooding the market while studying.
    The syllabus is fossilized, the research's are repetitive and ritualized as rightly mentioned in the article. There is not even a little bit of concern for farmers among the scientists. They are well paid, concerned about their own honors, promotion and status in the society. They just see it as a lucrative job with no commitment. Four year of U.G, 2 years in P.G and 4 yrs of Ph.d and clearing ARS exam makes one a scientist.

    A dramatic change is needed in research. The syllabus has to be changed first and the recruitment method must be changed. Those with flair for research and real concern for farmers should be identified. Shifting research to farmers field must be the priority. Above all there should be accountability.

    There are many examples of farmers who are doing their own research without any theoretical knowledge and had made their research successful.

    Farmers field schools, farm schools, Athma scheme by the central government are not going to work until our Agricultural scientists start working with farmers.
    Ramesh, DHAN Foundation, Madurai

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • It is not the failure of

    It is not the failure of extension system alone. It is complete failure of agricultural scientists to understand the need of the farmers. Localized research, on farm field trials with participation of farmers should be the priority. Ask scientist to come out of the campus and work with villagers.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • A very thought provoking

    A very thought provoking article and comments related to our public institution working in agricultural research.
    What we need is democratisation of our agricultural research institutes and making them farmer-centric and farmer-accessible

    Timothy Wise writing in the Global Post made the following points which I think applies to ICAR also::


    ""In Haiti, the protests are larger and the stakes are higher. After the catastrophic Port au Prince earthquake in 2010, 10,000 Haitian farmers marched to reject a $4 million donation of seeds from Monsanto, arguing that the company was trying to hook peasants on seeds they couldnÔÇÖt share or replant. In a dramatic show of defiance in the face of widespread hunger, the farmers publicly burned the seeds.

    They argued that people have the right to food and the right to choose where their food comes from and whatÔÇÖs in it. This call to ÔÇ£democratize the food systemÔÇØ got no hearing at the World Food Prize.

    We need to make sure everyone benefits from this technology, said a closing speaker, the companies, the scientists, the poor who are hungry.

    Who came first on that list, and who came last, was lost on most of the crowd.""

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • This system is totally

    This system is totally useless..when i was enrolled in iari as phd student..i was very happy that i am going to do research in best agri univ of india..but now i am thinking to withdraw my admission from here..this system is totally failed..there are lot of course work..i want to ask from director that here we are for doing research or only for giving exam and research work..most of student are preparing for IAS or one is interested in research..AND still icar is demanding more money from goverment..i am asking,,HOW MUCH MONEY U GUYS WILL WASTE ON THE NAME OF SO CALLED i am totally frustated....down down down icar

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Article mention "A recent

    Article mention "A recent change in a vector map was made almost 12 years after the paper was published and could undo the original thesis". It can be found on following link [given below too]. It is just one example, there are many from ICAR system

    Corrigendum to: ÔÇ£Transgenic tomato plants resistant to fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera Hubner)ÔÇØ [Crop Prot. 19 (2000) 307ÔÇô312]
    A.D. Mandaokara, R.K. Goyalb, A. Shuklaa, S. Bisariaa, R. Bhallaa, V.S. Reddyc, A. Chaurasiaa, R.P. Sharmaa, I. Altosaard, P. Ananda Kumara, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author
    a National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi 110 012, India
    b Department of Vegetable Crops, University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan 173 230, India
    c International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi 110 067, India
    d Department of Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, 40 Marie Curie Private, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, How to Cite or Link Using DOI
    Permissions & Reprints
    Refers To
    A.D Mandaokar, R.K Goyal, A Shukla, S Bisaria, R Bhalla, V.S Reddy, A Chaurasia, R.P Sharma, I Altosaar, P Ananda Kumar
    Transgenic tomato plants resistant to fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera Hubner)
    Crop Protection, Volume 19, Issue 5, June 2000, Pages 307-312
    PDF (294 K)
    There has been an error with regard to Fig. 1. The orientation of ICP gene cassette is given from EcoRI to HindIII where it should be from HindIII to EcoRI. This error is deeply regretted. The correct map of T-DNA is given below.
    Full-size image (14 K)
    Fig. 1. T-DNA of plant transformation vector pBinBt3 carrying the ICP gene, cry1Ac; nptII, neomycin phosphotransferase II; LB, left border; RB, Right border; pAnos: Poly(A) sequence of nopaline synthase gene; pAocs: Poly (A) sequence of octopine synthase gene.
    Figure options
    Corresponding author contact information
    Corresponding author. National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, LBS Building, IARI, PUSA Campus, New Delhi 110 012, India. Tel.: +91 1125848783; fax: +91 1125843984.
    Copyright ┬® 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Criticism also needs lot of

    Criticism also needs lot of research. Be a critic, but do your homework first. The article says that contribution of agriculture in India's GDP is going down. I may add that it was 51.9% in 1950-51 when we were dependent on imported wheat and grain production in the country was aaround 50 million tonnes. The decline in GDP contribution of agriculture sector shows development of industry and services in the country. USA is doing very well in agriculture, however the GDP contributed by agriculturein 2011 stands at 1.25% only, for UK it is 0.72% only.
    This shows that you guys are sensationalizing the whole thing without understanding the real issues. The artaicle is factually wrong and it is merely a product of negative journalism.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • I would be happy to correct

    I would be happy to correct any factual inaccuracies if you point these out. ICARÔÇÖs Swapan Kumar Datta is the one who speaks of the falling GDP contribution of agriculture ( ). His figure is accurate and pertinent to the debate. Sure, the GDP contribution of the farm sector in the US and the UK is low, but does 60 per cent of the population in either of these countries depend on agriculture as they do in India? I fail to understand the point you are trying to make. Please see the earlier comments on this article by scientists who are part of the system. They all agree that something is seriously wrong with ICARÔÇÖs approach. Criticism is meant to provoke introspection. To term it negative is to avoid facing facts

    Posted by: Latha Jishnu | 4 years ago | Reply
  • First please demarcate what

    First please demarcate what the SAU, State Government, Central Government, NGO's, and ICAR has to do, then criticise. ICAR is not responsible for all the problems of Indian farmers, Agriculture is a State subject, ICAR is not responsible for lack/too much water, sunshine, drought, lack of capital, fertilizers, seeds, labor, for everything it is fashionable to blame ICAR. As far me, ICAR is the best place to learn and to work

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • You have criticized ICAR for

    You have criticized ICAR for neglecting research on Pulses. You may just see the brief on Network project (MULLaRP)to gauge the depth of ICAR's contribution, and there are many other initiatives in this direction.

    Mungbean, urdbean, lentil, lathyrus, rajmash and fieldpea (MULLaRP) together accounts for about 37 % of total pulse production in India. To give impetus for research on these crops in a coordinated manner at national level, the All India Coordinated Research Project on MULLaRP was established in 1993 under ICAR. The network operates through 26 centers across the country.

    The network has played a pioneering role in developing more than 60 high yielding and disease resistant cultivars of mandated crops and many of these have become popular among farmers and occupied prominence in seed chain. Every year about 3000 quintal of breeder seeds of these cultivars are being produced by its cooperating centers. The cultivar development programme paid dividend as the crops have been introduced in newer niches such as mungbean in summer season after harvest of wheat and potato in northern India, urdbean in rice fallow situation of coastal peninsula and rajmash in plains of north and central India during rabi season

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • A history of the agricultural

    A history of the agricultural research system would be instructive. Let me reiterate some landmark events (given on Pages 28-29) that you appear to have overlooked. In 1966 when it was re-organised ICAR was given full responsibility to conduct and coordinate agriculture research, breathing fresh life into an organisation that was almost defunct. This was accompanied by a six-fold increase in funding. Then in 1974, ICAR was turned into an even better-funded department of the governments as DARE. This consolidated its central authority and bureaucratic control over research. No one is saying that SAUs are one and all excellent institutions. Indeed, many of them have mediocre faculty and do very little research. But since the 1960s, locally relevant research has not been encouraged and there is no gainsaying the ICAR has stopped SAUs from addressing problems in their ago-ecosystems. I guess we should blame the government for this state of affairs and not ICAR.

    Posted by: Latha Jishnu | 4 years ago | Reply
  • No doubt that constructive

    No doubt that constructive criticism is always good, however the good points, progress made and contribution to the nation can not be just wiped out. Deep research is needed to write on working of organisations of national importance so that things can be put in the right perspective before the public. It is not enough to go for 2 or 3 hurried interviews & compile something without deep study and just paint a dark picture. That does not raise one to the stature of neither a respected analyst nor an activist.
    For the benefit of readers and your senior editors, I am reproducing some content from Wikipedia, more you may see on the parent site.

    Agriculture in India (Overview)
    Per 2010 FAO world agriculture statistics, India is the world's largest producer of many fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, major spices, select fresh meats, select fibrous crops such as jute, several staples such as millets and castor oil seed. India is the second largest producer of wheat and rice, the world's major food staples.[3] India is also the world's second or third largest producer of several dry fruits, agriculture-based textile raw materials, roots and tuber crops, pulses, farmed fish, eggs, coconut, sugarcane and numerous vegetables. India ranked within the world's five largest producers of over 80% of agricultural produce items, including many cash crops such as coffee and cotton, in 2010.[3] India is also one of the world's five largest producers of livestock and poultry meat, with one of the fastest growth rates, as of 2011.[4]
    One report from 2008 claimed India's population is growing faster than its ability to produce rice and wheat.[5] Other recent studies claim India can easily feed its growing population, plus produce wheat and rice for global exports, if it can reduce food staple spoilage, improve its infrastructure and raise its farm productivity to those achieved by other developing countries such as Brazil and China.[6][7]
    In fiscal year ending June 2011, with a normal monsoon season, Indian agriculture accomplished an all-time record production of 85.9 million tonnes of wheat, a 6.4% increase from a year earlier. Rice output in India also hit a new record at 95.3 million tonnes, a 7% increase from the year earlier.[8] Lentils and many other food staples production also increased year over year. Indian farmers, thus produced about 71 kilograms of wheat and 80 kilograms of rice for every member of Indian population in 2011. The per capita supply of rice every year in India is now higher than the per capita consumption of rice every year in Japan.[9]
    India exported around 2 million metric tonnes of wheat and 2.1 million metric tonnes of rice in 2011 to Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh and other regions around the world.[8]
    Aquaculture and catch fishery is amongst the fastest growing industries in India. Between 1990 and 2010, Indian fish capture harvest doubled, while aquaculture harvest tripled. In 2008, India was the world's sixth largest producer of marine and freshwater capture fisheries, and the second largest aquaculture farmed fish producer. India exported 600,000 metric tonnes of fish products to nearly half of all the world's countries.[10][11][12]
    India has shown a steady average nationwide annual increase in the kilograms produced per hectare for various agricultural items, over the last 60 years. These gains have come mainly from India's green revolution, improving road and power generation infrastructure, knowledge of gains and reforms.[13] Despite these recent accomplishments, agriculture in India has the potential for major productivity and total output gains, because crop yields in India are still just 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in the farms of developed as well as other developing countries.[14] Additionally, losses after harvest due to poor infrastructure and unorganised retail cause India to experience some of the highest food losses in the world.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • A recent shameful case of

    A recent shameful case of retraction by ICAR scientist can be found on the following link. There are many such cases

    Retraction Note: Advancements in morphometric
    differentiation: a review on stock identi´¼ücation
    among ´¼üsh populations
    A. K. Dwivedi ÔÇó V. K. Dubey
    Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
    Retraction to: Rev Fish Biol Fisheries (2013)
    DOI 10.1007/s11160-012-9279-1
    This article has been retracted at the request of the
    Publisher and Editor-in-Chief due to a violation of
    SpringerÔÇÖs Publishing Principles as part of the content
    of the article DOI 10.1007/s11160-012-9279-1 has
    been duplicated from different research papers. The
    authors apologize to the Editors and readers as well as
    the authors of the original papers.
    The online version of the original article can be found under
    A. K. Dwivedi (&) V. K. Dubey
    National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources,
    Canal Ring Road, Dilkusha, Lucknow 226002, U.P., India
    Rev Fish Biol Fisheries
    DOI 10.1007/s11160-013-9322-x

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • In the article mentioned that

    In the article mentioned that private companies leading hybrid seed market in major crops like maize, bajra, sorghum, chilli ....

    Most of them are public bred hybrids or parental lines which were stolen/taken away from the private seed companies and sold them in their brand name. Inspite of better directions from PVPFR authority to deposit and register their varieties/hybrids, none as done. I am very sure, if all the private company sold varities/op's/hybrids were fingerprinted, one could easily assigns their origin to any of the public bred inbreds/varieties/hybrids. these public varieties/hybrids were developed by public institutes like ICAR Institutes/SAU.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Anonymous commenter

    Anonymous commenter presents/quotes on production related to agriculture and aquaculture. He did not mention at what cost we achieved that growth. This was achieved with subsidized fertilizers. The chemical inputs created air, water, soil and food pollution. The health hazards increased with this and reduced fresh water availability and polluted the meat, milk, fish-prawns, etc. How much is the medical costs to earnings of total population. The chemical inpu technology/GM technology severely affected nutritional security as well food security and farmer's security. Traditional agriculture includes animal husbandry. The diet is healthy one. We apply technology blindly without looking at the consequences of such technologies. Let us go back to traditional technology and improve our lives - health. But the new technology helped multinational companies to mint billions at the cost of human sufferings all over the world and local business-political nexus to mint wealth through export and thus rising prices in local market under poor governance. All along Dr. M. S. Swaminathan talked of green revolution and got awards after awards and now taking of organic agriculture. He talked of GM crops and now talks of no GM crops!!!

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Redy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • i am working in ICAR

    i am working in ICAR institutes for last four years, after my P.G. before joining (contractual post),i imagined that ICAR is one of the best institutes in india. but as the time passes away i get know about the back stories form the students and Technical persons, most of the scientist that are selected through ICAR ARS are totaly blanked, they even dont know how to extract a DNA from plant. their Phd thesis is written by their supervisors and practical work done by others, most of the time they spend in IAS/PCS examiniation preparation , still today ,most of the new appointed scientist prepare for IAS, science goes in dustbin, and afer four years they gets the promotions etcs. in every promotion, their is a strong jack. in each advertisement, they show lots of vacancy but the fact is that, you need a jack to enter in to system , no one things that we should select a talented one. out 0f 100 only 5% scientist are working best. rest are passing the time. after all they are ARS qualified....... Scientist,

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • A positive step against

    A positive step against corruption:

    The Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) Jammu is likely to get new Vice-Chancellor in next few days as the incumbent is being shown door more than three years ahead of completion of his tenure.

    The incumbent Dr Dilip Kumar Arora, who took over as the Vice-Chancellor of SKUAST-Jammu in May 2012 for a tenure of five years, is learnt to have submitted his resignation to the Governor. see D K Arora, who has more than three years of his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of SKUAST-Jammu, is learnt to have submitted his resignation to the Governor on health grounds.

    However, sources claimed that health grounds are not the actual reason for the unceremonious exit of the incumbent Vice-Chancellor but the permission seeking prosecution of Dr Arora for the charges established against him during his previous tenure as Director of the ICARÔÇÖs National Bureau of Agriculturaly Important Micro-organism (NBAIM) in Mau (Uttar Pradesh).

    There were charges of misuse of official position by Dr Arora as the Director and now the investigating agencies have sought permission for his prosecution, sources said adding that to avoid any embarrassment to the institution, the Vice-Chancellor was directed to submit his resignation and exit the office.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply