The government should not appoint an IAS officer as chairman of the Board that recruits scientists in India's premium agri-institute ICAR as this could derail the farm research, top agri-scientists today said while seeking the Prime Minister's intervention.
A Cabinet proposal has been moved to widen the eligibility criteria for appointment of Chairman of the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) as part of the government plan to reform the Board, sources said.
As per the Union Agriculture Ministry's proposal both agri-scientists and even IAS officers can apply for the post of ASRB chairman, they added.
Opposing this move, eight agri-scientists today held a press conference and said appointment of non-agriculture scientists and bureaucrats could affect the autonomy of the Board. They sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in the matter and have also written letters to the PM.
"Sadly, there have been instances of circumscribing, derailing if not usurping totally the autonomy and effectiveness of the Board by some vested interests," former ASRB chairman R B Singh told reporters.
He further informed that earlier attempt to include bureaucrats in qualification of chairman and member was turned down by the governing body of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and its President in the annual general meeting held in 2017.
"Someone who is not actively involved in expanding the frontier of agri-science, will not be in a position to assess the professional suitability of a scientist or technocrat in context of the latest scientific and technological development," he added.
Echoing views, NAAS (National Academy of Agricultural Sciences) President Panjab Singh said the cabinet proposal has been moved without the knowledge of the ASRB and other stakeholders to amend the recruitment rules for the post of ASRB Chairman.
He also said that the farm scientists community is disturbed by the government's proposal.
"If this proposal gets cleared, then it would demoralise the cadre of scientists and derail the ongoing farm research," he added.
"Nowhere in the world it has happened for a scientific body and not even in India in science-led institutes. The proposal in whatever stage it is should be buried," former Delhi University Vice Chancellor Deepak Paintal.
Currently, the ASRB is without a chairman for more than year and one of the two posts of members is also vacant since July 2017. Even the post of over 60 directors are lying vacant in the absence of a chairman.
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