In a letter to the PM, they say appointing a bureaucrat will lead to regular interference in the process of talent search
India's top agriculture scientists have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposing any move to appoint a bureaucrat as chairman of the Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB).
In the letter last month, scientists under the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) said that any move to appoint a bureaucrat instead of a career scientist as head of the ASRB will end its autonomy and lead to interference in talent search.
ASRB, the main body for recruitment of agriculture scientists in the country, was set up in 1973 and has been instrumental in appointment of scientists in all major agriculture institutes and universities in the country.
It has also been the force behind building a cadre of farm scientists.
ASRB also conducts an All-India level Preliminary examination for recruitment of Scientists every year in 55 different disciplines of agricultural sciences.
The scientists claimed that so far, ASRB has recruited over 95,000 personnel in different categories and so far it has not lost a single case against any of its recommendations, which speaks volumes of the transparency in its functioning.
The academy has a chairman and two full-time members appointed from the scientific community. However, over the past few years it has been operating without a full-time chairman and has just one member.
"Since the past 45 years, never has a bureaucrat headed ASRB. We feel that someone who doesn't know science and is not aware of the nuances of agriculture sciences should not be allowed to judge scientists," said Panjab Singh, president of NAAS and chancellor of RLB Central Agriculture University, Jhansi.
He said the ICAR Governing Council and even a government appointed committee hasn't said anything about changing the composition of ASRB, but instead they have asked for strengthening he recruitment board so as to enable selection of high a quality individuals in the agriculture research.
"We feel that entire move not to appoint a full-time member as chairman ASRB and then reports appearing in a section of the press that government plans to appoint a bureaucrat as chairman of ASRB is linked," Singh said.
He said the ICAR Governing Council and even a government appointed committee under former secretary of Directorate of Agricultural Research (DARE), R S Paroda to review the functioning of ASRB under hasn’t said anything about changing the composition of the ASRB.
Noted scientist Deepak Pental said that entire concept looks flawed and how can someone even think of appointing a non-scientists to head a scientists recruitment panel.
He said career bureaucrat who even has a knowledge of science won't be able to do justice as agricultural sciences is a specialised field having lot of branches and sub-divisions like animal husbandry etc.
"We want to appeal to the government and Indian people to save agriculture sciences in India because science is the bedrock of government's aim to double farmers income by 2022," R B Singh, former chairman of ASRB said.
The government hasn't responded to the allegations and hasn't confirmed whether there is move to change the composition of ASRB.
Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters