There are total 981 universities including 71 agricultural universities in India.These universities can be categorized into central, deemed, state and private. These universities impart education to the students in all the streams prevailing now. Among the state universities, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is one of the leading universities in India. PAU is head-quartered at Ludhiana (the industrial town) in Punjab province of India. PAU was established in 1962 in the erstwhile Punjab comprising present states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It was inaugrated by none other than the first Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru on 8th July, 1963. It is worthy to note that the first agricultural university in India was established in 1960 at Pantnagar (Rudrapur district) in now Utttrakhand state and its name is Gobind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GBPUAT). Earlier, PAU was catering the needs of students of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Later on, after the bifurcation of Punjab state into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in 1966, the Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) and Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidayalaya were established in 1970. PAU is modelled on land grant colleges’ pattern in the US. It means to say that the lands for the university were donated by the landlords voluntarily. Those lands were utilized for the construction of university buildings and for the establishment of crop research farms etc.
PAU was adjudged as the Best Agricultural University of India in 1995 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It was the first state agricultural university to receive this award. ICAR is the apex central body for controlling research, education and extension in the fields of agriculture and allied subjects in India. It was the first university to get as high as special grant of 100 crore by the central government in 2006-07 announced by the then Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh for Basic and Strategic Research in Agriculture and as an acknowledgement of its role in eliminating food shortages and alleviating hunger. PAU was also bestowed by the Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award in 2017. It was ranked the best, in 2017, among the universities of Punjab by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) for its remarkable role in teaching and research. In 2017, as per the ranking of National Taiwan University, PAU was one of the only two agricultural institutes of India which made to the list of top 300 world universities. It was also honoured by the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (ISGPB) in 2017 for having the highest number of landmark varieties to its credit among all the state agricultural universities and ICAR institutes. In 2017, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) ranked it number 1 university in the field of Indian Citation Index for publication of research articles and citations.
The PAU has been ranked as one of the best among global universities for agricultural science. It is only agricultural university in India to have made it to the prestigious list of the ‘Sixth Annual U.S. News Best Global Universities’ rankings for the year 2020 at 192nd positions in ‘agricultural science’ subject area. The PAU has produced 7 Padma Bhushan awardees and 10 Padma Shree awardees. The current Vice-Chancellor Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon has recently been awarded Padma Shri in the field of Science & Technology by the Government of India.
Education: The PAU is located at the prime spot of Ludhiana city and it is spread over an area 494 hectares. It is well connected by road, rail and air links. It has under its jurisdiction 18 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), 8 Research Stations, 3 Fruit Research Stations, 4 Seed Farms and 14 Farm Advisory Service Centres (FASCs) in different districts of Punjab comprising off campus area of 1793 hectares. It has four constituent colleges – College of Agriculture, College of Agricultural Engineering & Technology, College of Home Science (now called as College of Community Science) and College of Basic Science & Humanities. It has two Pre-Graduation Institutes of Agriculture. PAU offers Under Graduate and Post Graduate courses in agriculture and related subjects. Admissions are held after conducting the Common Admission Test (CAT). It offers 6 years programme to students after matriculation and 4 years programme after 10+2. In the under graduate courses, 85% seats are reserved for the Punjab domicile students and 15% seats are allocated for ICAR students. ICAR coducts All India Entrance Test for agriculture and allied subjects and those who clear the entrance test, they get admissions in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) based on their merits. In the post graduate courses, 75% seats are filled from Punjab state and the rest 25% seats are filled by ICAR. At PAU, semester system is adopted. In a year, there are two semesters of 6-months duration. At the university, rigorous theoretical and practical knowledge is imparted to the students. All the laboratories of all departemnts are well-equippped with the state-of-the art gadgets and instruments.
The teachers are well exposed to national and international teaching methodologies and research standards. The PAU has signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with several national and international reputed institutes for students and teachers training, research and education programmes. In Ph.D programmes, students have to pursue one semester courses in other national agricultural university. It gives very good exposure about the working cultures of other universities.
The College of Agriculture is the oldest and the largest of the four constituent colleges of PAU. The college received the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) Award in 1977 in recognition of its outstanding contibution in the field of agriculture. It has Agronomy, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Plant Breeding & Genetics, Extension Education, Climate Change & Agricultural Meteorology, Soil Science, Agricultural Biotechnology, Organic Farming and Food Science & Technology (overall 10) departments. The College of Agricultural Engineering & Technology has seven departments viz: Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Information Technology, Farm Machinery & Power Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Processing & Food Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering and Soil & Water Engineering. It also has Centre of Advanced Studies in Post-Graduate Teaching and Research in Agricultural Engineering, Centre of Advanced Studies on Energy Management in Agriculture and Centre of Advanced Studies in Agricultural Engineering (Farm Power & Machinery). Thus, it has 3 centres of advanced studies. This college received FICCI Award in 1975 for its unique contribution in agricultural engineering. The College of Basic Science & Humanities has Agricultural Journalism, Languages & Culture, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Economics & Sociology, Mathematics, Statistics & Physics, Microbiology, Business Studies and Zoology (total 8) departments. The close inter-relation between the basic sciences and the applied sciences have added a new vigour and charms to the agricultural education. Collge of Community Science (Home Science) has 5 departments under its jurisdiction – Apparel & Textile Science, Extension Education & Communication Management, Family Resource Management, Food & Nutrition, Human Development & Family Studies. College of Horticulture & Forestry has four departments namely Floriculture & Landscaping, Forestry & Natural Resources, Fruit Science and Vegetable Science.
PAU has two CAFT (Centre for Advance Faculty Training) centres in Soil Science and Plant Breeding & Genetics department. At CAFT, teachers from other universities are imparted advance training in the soil science and plant breeding & genetics subjects and their knowledge is refreshed with the latest updates in the subjects. They get exposed to the recent and the newest advances in the subject matter. Training periods vary from 10 days to 21 days.
Research: The PAU is a pioneer university for research in India. During 1960s, the university has played a key role in making the country self-sufficient in food grain production and is known as the ‘Mother of Green Revolution’. Punjab with only 1.53% geographical area, contibutes about 60% wheat and 45% rice to the central food grain kitty. This is the result of path breaking research at PAU due to untiring efforts of scientists. It has recommended 809 varieties/hybrids of different crops out which 173 have been released at national level. These varieties are popular among the farmers of other states too. The first hybrid grain pearl millet (Bajra) in the world was produced by it. The first Bt cotton variety in India was developed at this university. It has produced less seeded kinnow (a citrus family very nutritious fruit). Due to continuous efforts of PAU, Punjab state produces 37% honey of the country. It successfully introduced, established and developed Italian honey bee in India during 1962 to 1964. The PAU is continuously conducting research on different aspects of crops, vegetables and fruits through its research centres located across Punjab. Research programmes are monitored and controlled by the Director of Research (DR) of PAU. The DR is assisted by 4 Additional Directors of Research (ADRs). The ADRs are for Crop Improvement, Natural Resource & Plant Health Management, Farm Mechanization & Bio-Energy and Horticulture & Food Science.
Extension: The new technologies developed by the univesity must reach to the farmers. That is why several special programmes like ‘From Lab to Land’ and ‘From Farm to Fork’ were launched by the government. Keeping in view, PAU has established 18 KVKs in 18 districts of Punjab where farmers can approach easily and they get training on technical know-how of the agriculture and allied sujbects. The rural youth get knowldege about poultry, dairy, piggery, bee keeping, mushroom production, seed production, hand crafts etc. and they get self-emlpoyment. Thus the KVKs help in improving rural economies. PAU has 14 FASCs at various places in Punjab which act as advisory centres for the immediate problems faced by the farmers related to farming. Seed Farms provide the quality and improved seeds to the farming community. The extension programmes are supervised by the Director of Extension Education (DEE). They are helped by the two Additional Directors of Extension Education (ADEE).
Job Prospects: Agricultural graduates can get employment in public and private sectors. Banks hire them as Agriculture Officer (A.O). Private and Multi-National Companies (MNCs) dealing in agricultural commodities hire them as marketing officers and for research & development activities. Governments appoint them as Agriculture Development Officers (ADOs) and Chief Agriculture Officers (CAOs). They can be emlpoyed by the universities and institutes as scientists, professors, extension workers, researchers, seed production specialists etc. Ministry of Agriculture requires them in different capacities. Horticulture department needs Horticulture Development Officer (HDO) and Landscape Engineer (LE)/Landscape Development Officer (LDO). tThus there is no dearth of job opportunities for them. Agriculture graduates from the PAU are always kept in high esteem due to its prestigious status. The high quality education at PAU has resulted in recognition of its alumni at national and international levels.
Thus, among the state agricultural universities, PAU is the best and here education, research and technology extension is the main motto of the students and teachers. PAU gives power to the students as knowledge is the real power.
By: Afzal Ahmad