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Serving, Ex-bureaucrats contending with Agri-Scientists for ASRB Chief Post

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

A recently-retired Agriculture Secretary is amongst the nine short-listed candidates for the post of President of the Agricultural Scientists’ Recruitment Board (ASRB).

According to sources in the department, Shobhana K Pattanayak, who retired on 30th September as Agriculture Secretary and Prabhat Kumar, an UP-cadre IAS official presently serving as Agriculture Production Commissioner in Lucknow, are supposed to have been asked to appear before the Search-cum-Selection Committee in the end of this month.

Sources informed that other people who are also under consideration include senior agricultural scientists with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as well as agricultural universities.

This is for the first time that people working in civil services are being considered for the position of ASRB chief, who is involved in selecting scientists working in Indian agricultural research system. At least half the ICAR institutions at present do not have regular directors and are run by senior scientists.

Earlier, the government had made some amendments in the recruitment rules for the selection of ASRB chairperson to allow serving as well as retired bureaucrats to apply for the post. The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), which is the top academy of agricultural scientists and scientists, had urged the PM Office requesting it refrain from the move but they failed in getting an answer.

In 2017, government had formed a high-level expert committee under the chairmanship of R S Paroda, former Director General of ICAR and Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research and Extension to advise ways to reorganize the Board. But selecting a serving or retired bureaucrat as ASRB chief was not in the recommendations list. Last year also, a proposal to consider civil servants for the position of Chairman and Members of ASRB came before the ICAR governing body but the decision-making body rejected the idea.

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