The discipline of agricultural studies has been an integral part of our country’s development pertaining to educating the masses and making them aware of the necessity of their contribution towards agriculture.
We at The Knowledge Review, with the intent of emphasizing on this necessity, bring to you this edition titled, The 10 Best Agriculture Institute in India, 2020. This edition brings to you educational institutions that are distinctive in their approach towards imparting agricultural studies to the country’s future workforce. In our quest to find such exemplary institutions across India, we crossed paths with Eternal University, Baru Sahib with Dr.Khem Singh Gill Akal College of Agriculture for comprehensive agriculture education for girl students in India.
Eternal University, Baru Sahib, sponsored by Kalgidhar Trust was established by Himachal Pradesh Government (Act No. 3 of 2009) in the backward Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh with the mission to impart cutting edge scientific and technical education amalgamated with spiritual rejuvenation.
The campus has elaborate infrastructure including laboratories, classrooms, libraries, playgrounds, hostels, canteens, cafeteria, banks, departmental store, post office and much more for comfortable living and academic pursuits. It has been duly recognized by UGC, AICTE, NCTE, INC, DSIR and DRDO and accredited by NAAC for its excellence in academics and research contributions.
The residential university for faculty, staff and students provides a unique,serene, spiritual, innovative and creative environment for nurturing young minds for their holistic development with the right mix of traditions and the latest developments to make it a modern Gurukul for girl students.
The seven constituent colleges of the university with highly trained, experienced and competent faculty and staff are engaged in teaching, research and extension offering nearly 65 degree programmes in Arts, Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Agriculture, Biotechnology, Food technology, Divine music, Economics, Commerce, Management, Nursing and Public Health etc. from undergraduate to PhD level.
There is no other higher private educational institution foragricultural studies comparable to the Eternal University in this region. The Eternal University has been the first private university in Himachal Pradesh to establish Akal College of Agriculture exclusively for the girl students from the academic session 2014-15 with course curriculum of B. Sc. (Hons.) Agriculture and B. Tech. Food Technology as per the Fifth Deans’ Committee of ICAR, New Delhi and various PG programs in different streams associated with agriculture including Biotechnology to effectively and timely catering to the agriculture and food technology teaching, research, training and skill development for desired improvement of plants, getting their highest production with minimum inputs and value addition for higher return for inclusive development of the region. Keeping in view the extensive contributions of Late PadamBhushan, Dr.Khem Singh Gill, former Vice Chancellor of PAU, Ludhiana and the Vice President of Kalgidhar Trust, to agriculture in northern India, the College has been named as Dr.Khem Singh Gill Akal College of Agriculture since November, 2019. A new and state-of-the-art seven storey building of the Agriculture College with an Auditorium (1500 seats) and a large Museum is under construction.
Dr.Khem Singh Gill Akal College of Agriculture has developed excellent and extensive experimental fields, laboratories, polyhouses, Botanical-cum-Herbal Garden, Modern Dairy Farm, Apiary, Integrated Farming System, agriculture machinery and different irrigation systems for taking up comprehensive basic and applied research and hands-on training in diverse agricultural disciplines.
Various research projects funded by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. India such as “Precise Transfer of Genes for High Grain Iron and Zinc content from non-progenitor Aegilops species to Wheat Cultivars,” “Improvement of end use quality of 1BL/1RS translocation containing wheat varieties by removal of Sec-1 loci and retaining Glu-B3 using marker assisted backcross breeding (MABB)” and “Screening iron, zinc and carotenoid bioavailability from biofortified staple crops using coupled in vitro digestion/Caco2 cell model,” have been carried out effectively at the University while others funded by, DBT, DST, NABARD and HIMCOSTE are in progress.
Three Pilot Plants on processing of Vegetables and Fruits; Bakery and Extrusion products and Food Analytical laboratories have beenestablished with a grant from Ministry of Food Processing Industry, Govt. of India. A new project for setting up Akal Food Safety and Quality Control Laboratory at Baru Sahib sanctioned by MOFPI, Govt. of India at a total cost of INR. Six crores, with all the required sophisticated and state of the art equipment, is under development which will provide excellent facilities to the faculty and research scholars to take up outstanding research in agriculture, food technology, pharmaceutical and Ayurvedic medicine.
The highly competent and experienced faculty of the college and the post graduate students are focusing on the optimal utilization of biodiversity of functional foods, medicinal and aromatic plants of the region, improvement of their tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, nutraceuticals, nutritional and processing quality through biotechnological approaches and developing balanced food packages and formulations for all age groups from infants to lactating mothers and elderly people.
Contributing towards Inclusive Development
The University has established a Plant and Soil Health Clinic at the campus to provide instant diagnostic service to the local farmers on pest and diseases and package of practices of the important field, fruit and vegetables crops of the region.
Clusters of villages of five Gram Panchyats have also been adopted by the University for providing awareness, consultancy, extension and skill development services to the farmers at their doors for exploring the high potential of this region with new Start up and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging and allied disciplines of agriculture for inclusive development of the region.
The University has been regularly organizing KisanMelas in the month of April every year on Baisakhi day with agro-industrial exhibitions and resource persons from various development departments of Himachal Pradesh where about 1000 farmer men and women participate. They are also encouraged to participate in agriculture produce competition.
All the agricultural students are given extensive exposure to awareness of the latest agricultural development, training, hands-on experience and skill development through field training, Rural Agricultural Work Experience, SAUs KVK training, Experiential Learning, industrial and agricultural institution visits to make them more of entrepreneurial pass-outs rather than the job seekers.
Exhibiting True Excellence
Agriculture graduates have highest placement in India and abroad in diverse agriculture disciplines and supply chains of inputs, machinery, production, protection, procurements, processing, storage etc. besides, banking, insurance, management and trade to name a few.
To admit and support the meritorious students, especially from the rural areas, they are given tuition fee waiver from 10% to 30% based upon their marks in the qualifying examination for various undergraduate programs. The students from various Academies of Kalgidhar Trust are given 50% tuition fee waiver during admission in the Eternal University.
JRF and other fellowships are provided to the deserving PhD students for teaching at undergraduate level and conducting practical under the faculty guidance. The University’s scholarship cell helps its students to apply for various scholarships under different national and state government schemes. The willing and needy students are also encouraged to work under Earn while you learn programme.
With the highly subsidized boarding and lodging in the residential campus of the university by Kalgidhar Trust the Eternal University has the lowest annual fee structure among the private universities in the region. Last year, 25 highly meritorious girl students from Telangana took admission in the Dr.Khem Singh Gill Akal College of Agriculture.
The University continues to maintain a very active teaching, research and training collaborations with the prestigious educational and research institutions such as Drexel University Philadelphia, University of California, Riverside, CA; Kansas State University, Kansas, USA; CIMMYT, Mexico; CSHPKV, Palampur; Technical University, Hamirpur; Dr. Y S Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Solan; Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; G.B. Pant University of Agricultural and Technology, Uttarakhand, HAU, Hisar, Haryana; and National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali, Punjab.
With proper development, training, utilization and recognition of ICT at the campus the university encourages its faculty and students to use the best information and training material globally available for their development and devote more time for generation of knowledge and technology development.
With excellent development of laboratories andinfrastructures the faculty and research scholars of the Eternal University are actively engaged on several strategic research projects funded by DBT, DST, NABARD, HIMCOSTE, MOFPI, UNAT BHARAT ABHYAN, NMPB etc. for exploration and utilization of medicinal and aromatic plants, improvement of functional food crops, development and use of nanomaterial and microbial consortia and harnessing renewable energy, etc.
“We are working and hoping to get good industry-university interaction for collaborative research on projects of mutual interest, scale up and commercialization of technology to make this residential campus an outstanding research institution,” says Prof. Dhaliwal. With the establishment of proposed Atal Community Innovation Centre at the campus the faculty and students will be taking up more systematic team work on the crucial thrust areas for the regional development.
ErVivekVerma, MD, Spray Engineering Devices Limited, Mohali has already entered into anMoU with the Eternal University to develop a state-of-the-art Green House for most economical harnessing of solar energy with maximum output without other inputs providing excellent training and placement opportunities to the university students across various streams.
To learn more about the college, visit: http://www.eternaluniversity.edu.in/
His Holiness Baba Iqbal Singh, Former Director Agriculture, Himachal Pradesh
Honourable Baba Iqbal Singh Ji, the former Director Agriculture of Himachal Pradesh, is the Chancellor of Eternal University, Baru Sahib and Akal University, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, Punjab as well as the President of Kaldidhar Trust and Kalgidhar Society. While serving the Department of Agriculture in Himachal Pradesh in various capacities, he has made tremendous contribution in the development of agriculture in the state. He is the role model for Eternal University’s faculty, staff and students for running the two universities and 130 Akal Academies in six northern states of India for providing the value based education amalgamated with spiritual rejuvenation.
The Guiding Light
A highly trained and experienced plant breeder and biotechnologist Dr.Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal, PhD University California, Riverside, is the present Vice Chancellor of the Eternal University. He has been taking keen interest in developing and strengthening the university for basic and applied research, institution-industry linkages, transfer of technology and IPRs. He expresses immense pride in having a team of faculty members with rich experience and training in research, management, teaching and extension who are taking the university to its academic excellence. A number of recently retired scientists from the prestigious SAUs of northern India are working as senior faculty members and Adjunct Professors in the University and Akal College of Agriculture.
Dr.Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal was the first student of his village to go to a college and get B. Sc. (Hons) Agriculture from Panjab University Chandigarh with a scholarship from ICAR, New Delhi. He obtained his M.Sc.(Hons.) Plant Breeding from PAU, Luhdiana in 1969. After three years of service in PAU, Ludhiana he joined University of California, Riverside as a Research Assistant and got his PhD in Genetics in 1975 during which he discovered a diploid wheat species Triticumurartu the A genome donor of bread wheat.
After his D F Jones post-doctoral fellowship at UCR he joined Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, Switzerland to develop an In Vitro plant cell biology group. He returned back to PAU as Wheat Breeder and Director, RRS, Gurdaspur in 1979, promoted as Sr. Wheat Breeder and Associate Director Research in 1985.
He developed one of the first Plant Biotechnology Centre in India at PAU, Ludhiana and joined and worked as its founder director and professor of biotechnology till 2003. After his retirement he moved to Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee as a Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology where he led a group on bio-fortification of wheat for high grain iron and zinc content to alleviate the wide spread hidden hunger in developing countries.
After his retirement from IIT, Roorkee in 2011, he joined Eternal University as a Professor of Biotechnology and then its Vice Chancellor for the last seven years. During his nearly fifty years of research and teaching work, he has visited and worked in many advanced institutions in USA, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Australia and Mexico, developed high yielding and disease resistant varieties of wheat, rice, maize and pulses, guided 20 PhD and many M.Sc. students and has published more than 250 original research articles. He has carried out 30 research projects funded by national and international research organizations and has actively participated in several task forces, RAC and PAC of DBT and ICAR, New Delhi as Chairman and member. His contributions as scientist and administrator have been appropriately recognized through several awards and honour.