Power, Money and Real Estate rules Indian politics in an agriculture and rural populated country. Politicians in this country proved again that they can do anything for votes and appeasement. This time it’s the Agriculture University in Maharashtra, India which had taken the wrath of dominance and superiority politics.
Establishment of Agricultural University in Jalgaon by splitting Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri will be a technical and strategic disaster. Recent statement given by Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr.Devandra Fadnavis adds fuel to the burning problem of substandard agriculture education due to mushrooming agriculture colleges in the state. Many believe that Mr. Eknath Khadse who is an influential politician and formed minister from the region as person behind this move. This decision will bring less of fortunes than burden for the government. Jalgaon district is home to two agriculture colleges established post 2003 and is home to North Maharashtra University for General sciences and Arts. Instead of concentrating on them and improving the existing infrastructure to global standards government prefers to add a tag name of new university for satisfying politicians personal ego’s.
Just citing reason of Banana growers for establishment of new agriculture university will be a mere ice in open air. If that’s the reason we can have one in Nasik for Grape growers, and one in Sangli for turmeric etc. Above reasons will not fulfill the strategic need for having a new university rather might be a reason for having a college. This decision will bring joy for Contractors, real estate agents, local MLA’s or politicians than real farmers.
Prior to 2002, Maharashtra had 4 major agriculture universities in Rahuri, Akola, Dapoli and Parbhani addressing problems of different regions like Western Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Konkan and Marathwada. These universities in turn were home to 2 to 3 agriculture and allied sciences colleges spreading across various districts in the state. Post 2003 things drastically changed and government had given permission and established many government and private colleges and universities in the field of agriculture, veterinary, fisheries and allied fields without addressing the needs of existing universities and colleges.
This decision had made a spur in total number of colleges and universities without reflecting the actual need, job market for passing out students and outputs on ground. Today Maharashtra is home to 35 government agricultural and allied colleges and home to 150 private colleges which by far had maximum agriculture colleges in the country. It is a well-known fact that many private colleges and recently established government colleges post 2003, do not have basic infrastructure for teaching and imparting modern agriculture, forget about the infrastructure, equipment, research and needs of students.
Most of the private colleges in the state were set up by local politicians and do not even fulfill basic norms. After holding accreditation and irregularities spotted by ICAR, state government formed a committee in 2016 under former VC of MPKV, Rahuri. As per the committee report submitted in 2018, it is found that 56 private colleges do not have basic infrastructure and fall under C & D categories. Worst part is many of these private colleges even offer post graduate and Phd courses as well for which permission was given without due diligence. We still do not know the action taken by state government on officials who had given permission to these 56 colleges which would have involved in huge corruption and malpractices.
With over 15000 UG students, 1000 PG students and 200 Phd students passing out just from these 150 mushroomed private colleges & additional thousands of students passing out from government colleges, it seems that Maharashtra government had just made fun out of agriculture degree. With many passing students with substandard degree, low quality of teaching or standards, state and country cannot expect better research & solutions with technical edge to farmer problems.
If at all they wanted to have a university in Khandesh area for satisfying the regional politics, they should have upgraded, improved the existing infrastructure available in College of Agriculture, Dhule which had been functioning from 1960’s and is home to many esteemed alumni. Incidentally Dhule Agriculture College is just 85km away from Jalgaon. Giving university status to colleges established in recent times post 2005 or establishing a new one without correcting the existing ones will be repeating a proven disaster.
Hope Agriculture Universities establishment will not become a political gimmick, rather quality, research and teaching in existing colleges and universities be raised to global standards bringing brightest brains in agriculture field.
(Author Bharath Kumar Thota is a university gold medalist in agriculture from MPKV, Rahuri, Masters in Food technology from CFTRI & had done Business management from IIM Kolkota). The views expressed here are views of Author in person.