13 Jan 2015

High Hopes for Solid Reforms by GOI : Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System

A demand-driven reversal in rural-to-urban migration patterns is creating interest in the subjects pertaining to those areas like Agriculture and allied subjects, so as to meet needs of people in sparsely populated regions. Just as rural roads have been routinely left off national maps, so too rural subject like agriculture have been routinely left off national agendas, strictly while talking about sustainability of our agricultural system. The whole world is reeling under changing climate and food habit, no country can supply us food in coming decades. So we have to make ourselves resilient and sufficient in foods in couple of decades. All the countries are under marketable deficit, when we talk about grains and pulses and even those which are in surplus condition are focusing on secondary agriculture like value addition, processing, producing Biofuels from cereals. So how can we look for importing foods in coming decades? Our policy makers should focus on how to make INDIAN AGRICULTURE climate resilient with food sufficiency supported by equitable distribution to real stakeholders.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Cabinet Minister Mr Radha Mohan Singh,GOI and other dignitaries at NASC campus, ICAR on 31st Dec, 2014
On the basis of such organized process we can plan for the future – not as necromancers but as architects. With a rational economic and political strategies, we can advance towards reforms in agriculture. Whatever design is used, simple or complex, naïve or sophisticated, it must serve decision-making processes effectively, with core focus on relevance, significance, scope, credibility, timeliness and pervasiveness for the stakeholders.


When we think of change, we too often think in terms of contrasts and extremes. Usually, however, no matter how drastic the change, how revolutionary the outcome, there is first a series of steps, of trials and errors, even of outright failure occurring along the way until the ultimate is achieved. So it is in AGRICULTURE. Until our goals are reached, until a totally new system is adopted, we will not stand still. New programs will be developed, new directions undertaken. We will go through a series of transitions from where we are to go where we plan to be. However, the problem we are facing today is one of rate of change. We can no longer go along at our own comfortable pace, conferring, meditating and setting long periods aside to “see what happens.” Knowledge has accelerated to a degree unknown, this in turn calls for accelerated change, a speeding up of our intellectual reflexes. Our “response time” must be cut down.

Because of the urgency to at least meet the world where it is, we must break through our own time barrier and seek new directions for REFORMS.

Agriculture continues to remain a major sector of the Indian economy. It contributes 13 per cent of GDP, provides more than 50 per cent of employment and continues to be the primary source of living for 58 per cent of the population. Technological progress in agriculture is, therefore, crucial for the overall economic development of the country.

With the constitutional changes in 1919, the responsibility for agriculture was transferred to the Provincial Governments. On the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Agriculture (1928), the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was established as a Registered Society in 1929, which was funded mainly through a lump sum grant from the Government and the proceeds from the cess levied on certain commodities exported from India. After independence, the Council was renamed as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on June 10, 1948.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Cabinet Minister Mr Radha Mohan Singh,GOI and other dignitaries at NASC Campus, ICAR on 31st Dec, 2014
After independence, the research system has undergone some major changes. The present agricultural research system comprises essentially two main streams, viz. the ICAR at the national level and the Agricultural Universities at the state level. Besides, several other agencies such as the Conventional / General Universities, Scientific Organizations, and various Ministries / Departments at the Center, and also Private or Voluntary Organizations participate directly or indirectly in research activities related to agriculture. The ICAR is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country. With more than 100 ICAR research institutes and 70 agricultural universities spread across the country, is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Cabinet Minister Mr Radha Mohan Singh, GOI at NASC campus, ICAR on 31st Dec, 2014

Apart from all these research activities the main pillar for implementation of all researched techniques and varieties we need a robust techno-administrative agriculture support system for making it practical. Day-by-day farming has become profitless. Farmers are under debt and committing suicides. Agricultural scientists and Technocrats have no or limited say in decision making in government and hence their service conditions are not sound. There is no regulatory framework for agricultural developmental program as handled by generalist.

Though, recommendations have been given by various government appointed committees and Commissions for reforms in agriculture but nothing has been done to implement the recommendations in true perspectives.

Constitution of All India Cadre of Indian Agriculture Service was duly recommended by various government appointed committees and commissions such as

ü  Nalagarh Committee (1958)
ü National Commission on Agriculture (1976) popularly known as Swaminathan’s report
ü  Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1988)
ü  The resolution was passed unanimously in State Agriculture Ministers’ conference in 1963.
ü A resolution under Article 312 was passed by two-third majority in the Rajya Sabha on 30th March, 1965 and again in 1971, for creation of Indian Agriculture Service
ü  Central 5th and 6th Pay Commission had also recommended for creation of integrated cadre of agriculture service

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Meeting of AIASA National President and National Chief Coordinator with Cabinet Minister Mr Radha Mohan Singh,GOI 
Based on the recommendations given by various commissions, the suggested points for reforms are given as under: 

    i.  Constitution of an organized cadre system in the form of  Indian Agriculture Service:

Along with the existing ARS, which is a society service (under ICAR; a registered society under Societies Registration Act, 1860) there is a fervent need for creation of other services like Agricultural Developmental Services (ADS), Agricultural Inspection Services (AIS), Agricultural Education Services (AES), Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS), Agricultural Foreign Services (AFS) and Services related to Veterinary and Fisheries Sciences on pattern of USDA, DAFF (Australia), European Union, Embrapa (Brazil), China etc. (Source: Swaminathan report, 1976)

All the above cadres must be central cadres under the banner of Indian Agricultural Service to bridge the gap between the ministry and the ICAR.
      Ø Agricultural Developmental Services (ADS) will ensure implementation of the centrally formulated policies at the state level.
      Ø  Agricultural Inspection Services (AIS) will secure the food safety, quarantine system and plant and animal health.
      Ø Agricultural Education Services (AES) will bring all the Central/Deemed Agricultural Universities under a common roof and regularly recruit the best talents as teaching personnel maintaining the total transparency. At present majority of the SAUs are facing dearth of funds and running with a weak infrastructure. Major concern is there is severe lack of teaching personnel in all CAUs/Deemed University and SAUs and whose recruitment is in deep waters.
      Ø  Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) will be vigilant regarding the marketing chain of agricultural products and their strategic marketing in domestic and international markets, avoiding the erratic price hike thereby.
      Ø  Agricultural Foreign Services (AFS) will improve foreign market access for Indian products and IPR related issues to prevent bio piracy of Indian germplasms. All the above mentioned services should comprise of respective Veterinary and Fisheries personnel as well so that the total range of agricultural commodities can be taken care of. It is indeed painful to plead for something that had already been recommended several times.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Meeting of AIASA members with Mr Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, Ex Minister and MP, Loksabha and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, GOI
Other recommendations are:

     ii.   Need of overall Administrative Reorganization in the sector to reap maximum out of the HR (Central Subject-state subject issue, tussle between the national and State bodies regarding policy making and implementation):

There must be a way out common interface system by restructuring of the status of ICAR to pave the way of development. The status of ICAR is still “a registered society under the Society Registration Act XXI, 1860” since pre-independence period till now, which is indeed not at par with the status of DAE, ICMR, DRDO etc. parallel bodies in spite of its great contribution to the history of India. There is dire need of techno-Administrative Agriculture reforms to maximize the output of the human resource generated by NARS-ICAR system for the emancipation of the primary sector to primary industrial sector.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms

        iii.  Strengthening of Agriculture Extension System in the country for Technology dissemination to farmers
        iv.  Introduction of a transparent system by eradicating bureaucratic interference in implementation of agriculture development programs
        v. Inclusion of Agriculture Works (Farm Operations) under MG National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)  and Engagement of Agriculture Graduates for implementation of MGNREGA
      vi.  Establishing Centre and State Agriculture Council as regulatory body for giving accreditation to agriculture education and for granting license to Agriculture degree holders by considering agriculture degree as professional degree at par with graduate degree in Medical and Veterinary Science
       vii.Effective regulatory mechanism for supply of quality agricultural inputs to farmers at a reasonable and affordable price with performance guaranty / warranty of inputs and promotion of organic inputs’ production at farm/village/cluster level
       viii. Processing and marketing linkage of agriculture produce for value addition to farmers  
       ix.  Framing of National/State Agriculture Policy
       x.   Separate budget for agriculture
      xi.  Filling up of 4500 vacant posts of Scientists and 24800 vacant posts of assistant Professors
       xii.Fellowships for higher education in agricultural and  allied sciences
     xiii.Grant of UPSC equivalent status for the Agricultural Service Recruitment Board and restoration of the “Choice of posting cum merit” right of an ARS candidate

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
Delegate level meeting of AIASA members with Dr Satyapal Singh, MP, Former Commissioner of Police, Mumbai
To avoid discrimination with agricultural professional we required an organized and well supported platform to raise our voices.And in due course of that, All India Agricultural Students Association(AIASA) has been established on 1st December, 2011 under societies registration Act XXI of 1860 with the approval of Agriculture Ministry, ICAR, Ministry of consumer Affairs to look after  the welfare of one million students and agriculture professional in the field of agriculture and allied subjects in close coordination and cooperation with agricultural Universities/Agriculture Departments and other concerned  Department/organizations. The students are current members of the association and teachers/assistant professors, scientists/agriculture officers/technical officers and professionals are associate members of the association.  The Association has initiated massive membership drive of registering one million students and former students as members/associate members of the association. The association has taken up the matter of constitution of All India/central agriculture service, granting professional status to agriculture at par with medical/veterinary science, filling up the vacant posts in central/state governments, granting UPSC status to ASRB, parity in fellowship, advancement of technology in agriculture including biotech and GM crops and empowering youth in agriculture for agriculture development and many others. The association works for empowering the rural youth and their involvement in the agriculture development and act as pressure group for formulating better policy by the government.

Indian Agricultural Administrative and Education System Reforms
AIASA members with Vice Chancellor Dr M L Chaudhary, BAU, Sabour, Bhagalpur, Bihar
A ray of hope has sparkled over entire nation and people are looking towards their government for positive change since last six month after change of government. Government is looking for immense and drastic reforms in all sector, hence in due course, AIASA is also mobilising its long term reforms agenda in Indian agriculture through different channels like constructive discussions with Parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture, Chairman and members. Several round table discussions are going on with several stake holders including scientists and farmers along with several Members of Parliament. Honorable Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, GOI, Mr. Radha Mohan Singh and Honorable Home Minister of GOI, Mr. Rajnath Singh have assured us for major reforms in agriculture in coming years. Let’s see what happens at ground reality level but indeed we are reeling with high hope for reforms.

What is your view regarding Indian Agricultural Administrative and education system? What reforms are very much needed?

(Written by Prakash Jha, National Chief Coordinator at All India Agricultural Students Association (AIASA) and Research Fellow at IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute), New Delhi)



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