Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the country’s premier research organization which played a vital role in developing crop varieties during the Green Revolution era as well as in the present time, has been headless for the last seven months.
IARI, once headed by well known agricultural scientist and father of the Green Revolution MS Swaminathan (during 1966-1972), has been without a director since August 7, 2014, when then director HS Gupta left the institute to join the upcoming Borlaugh Institute for South Asia, Ludhiana.
Spread across more than 200 acre in the heart of Delhi and known as Pusa Institute, IARI has also been instrumental in the development of rice, wheat, maize, millet, fruits and vegetables varieties which are being widely used by farmers at present.
The Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), under Indian Council for Agricultural Research, had advertised for the post of ‘director’ after Gupta had requested to be relieved prior to the culmination of his tenure.
Sources told FE that ASRB could conduct the interview of seven short-listed applicants only on February 11 this year after rescheduling it three times last year. “Delay in appointment of director in a key institute adversely impacts development of technologies or varieties,” an agriculture ministry official said.
The applicants for the post of IARI director include KC Bansal, director, National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources, KV Prabhu, joint director (research) at IARI, P Ananda Kumar, plant molecular biologist and Narendra Singh Rathore, deputy director general (agricultural engineering) of ICAR.
Admitting the delay in appointment, an official with ICAR said ASRB is “following due process”. However, the official declined to give a time frame for selection. Gupta, who was director for five years, said usually the candidate for the ‘vital post’ is selected much earlier. IARI has about a 1,000 scientist across 20 divisions, five multi-disciplinary centres and eight regional stations.