In a sorry state of affairs
At present Indian Agricultural universities are in a sorry state of affairs. In spite of the rising budgetary trends, vital functions such as teaching, research, and extension education have got a back seat. One of the important reasons for the non-availability of financial resources for such vital purposes is the eating away of the major chunk of funds by salaries, wages, and pensions.
Another reason for the sorry state of Indian farm universities is that the private funding of such Indian universities is extremely low. Whereas in the USA it is 53 percent, in Japan 51 percent, in Germany 58 percent and in UK 63 percent, in India, it is only 15 percent. Even in a country like the Philippines, it is 32 percent. Thus total funding of agricultural research in India is as low as 0.45 percent against 1.99 percent in developed countries, the optimum being 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product
It is thus imperative on the part of the universities to devise and carry out some project to improve their own financial health and the State and Central Governments should not be found wanting in coming to the rescue of these prestigious institutions which have played a pivotal role in bringing about an agricultural revolution in our country. I
One suggestion which was presented at the meeting of the Vice-Chancellors sometime back was that the State Governments should provide a “one-time corpus fund” to their universities. Such a fund should be enough to yield interest that could enable the universities concerned to meet reasonable needs. It will be in the fitness of things if the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research Institute) and other Institutes also create such a corpus fund.
Another suggestion was that a one percent ad valorem tax on the total value of agricultural products sold in the market should be levied on the farmers and sellers to raise a “special fund” to be transferred to the farm universities to enable them not only to survive but also to carry out also the multipronged work efficiently.
It is often the practice that the ICAR releases funds for its various projects only towards the closing of the financial year. To make the utilization of such funds more worthwhile, the ICAR should better release such funds earlier such that the projects can be executed more efficiently. The stipend money to undergraduate and post-graduate students and contingent grants to scientists should also be substantially enhanced to improve their efficiency.
It is obvious that the state agricultural universities have to re-orient themselves to IITs and IIMs. As such, they will have to reduce overhead expenses, introduce e-governance and IT, create websites, build data banks and update their laboratories and libraries.
The real role of agriculture – is to help the farmers and provide them with proper guidance
Finally, the real goal of the farm universities should not be lost sight of – to help the farmers, particularly the small, marginal and landless ones, not only materially but also psychologically and inspire in them confidence and spirit of perseverance. In short, these universities should be zealous guides, not just observers or mute clerical workshops.