ICAR institutes to get more freedom

New Delhi, Aug 4 | Updated: Aug 5 2005, 05:30am hrs
Directors of the institutes affiliated to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) are likely to be accorded more functional and financial autonomy. They will soon be liberated from the autocratic clutches of the ICAR director-general. The decision emerged at a meeting convened on Tuesday by the Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, on the issue of revamping of the ICAR system.

The minister convened the meeting to take a decision on the reports of the two separate panels headed by Dr MS Swaminathan and Dr RA Mashelkar. The two panels suggested series of measure for increasing the efficiency of the reputed apex research body, which is now suffering from lack of proper leadership and direction. They had suggested all the affiliated institutes be liberated from unnecessary controls of the apex body to ensure their professional functioning. u

Both, Dr Swaminathan and Dr RA Mashelkar participated in the Tuesdays meeting, alongwith other senior officials and experts. The meeting, however, could not take any other decisions. The meeting could not take further decision, said a senior official in the agriculture ministry.

On the issue of the powers and responsibilities of the ICAR headquarters, the minister asked the director-general, Dr Mangla Rai if he had any alternate views on the issue. Dr Rai, however, could not present his views and the minister told him to come prepared with his suggestions in the next meeting.

Several experts have called for improving the efficiency of ICAR. Speaking to FE, Dr Punjab Singh, former ICAR director-general, vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University now, said, There is a need for pruning the staff at ICAR headquarters. Bureaucratic control of the ICAR should be removed and the directors of the affiliated institutes should be given more powers.

The president of the Horticulture Society of India and former professor at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), Dr KL Chaddha said, It is a positive step for the two panel reports to suggest that the Prime Minister should head the supervisory body of ICAR. This would increase its importance. But the body should consist of technocrats and scientists.

Unlike the Mashelkar panel, Dr Chaddha feels the presence of deputy director-generals at ICAR headquarters is necessary for coordination with state governments and agriculture universities.