Show – casing Uttarakhand

(Also Published in Garhwal Post)

Participation in the Second Ambassadors’ Meet organized by the Industries Association of Uttarakhand in collaboration with the state government gave me an opportunity to meet up with several old colleagues, friends in various organizations, and of course, some of the visiting representative of developing countries. This two-day event has not received the kind of attention that it actually deserved. Excepting perhaps Georgia, a former USSR member state, it was a South-South or developing nation’s get-together. Excepting one delegate, assisting the High Commissioner of Republic of South Africa, all delegates were obviously non-Whites. Doe the lack of coverage by our print –media has something to do with our obsessive ‘colour-preference’, one wonders ?

In this brief reflection I propose to make a few observations in regard to what we should be really show-casing in our future editions of Ambassadors’ Meet, if held anywhere within the state, and/or if at the national capital, as Chief Minister Bahuguna suggested in his address. More importantly, how to take preparations for such interfaces more seriously than they actually were for this particular event.

World Class Performance

Day I was spent in field visits to the Pharma City of Sela Quin and the Aromatic Plants Centre, located within the Industrial Area and the Kalsi Red Sindhi Bull-Farm. Nothing pleased me more than when the South African Ambassador praised the efforts made by Dr Kamal Singh and his dedicated team in establishing the Embryo-Transplant ( ET ) at Kalsi. Not many Uttarakhandis are aware, especially our city-people, of the remarkable contribution in animal-breeding and cattle improvement programmes by our newly constituted Uttarakhand Livestock development Board. The Ambassador marvelled at this bio-tech breakthrough achieved in India, including in Uttarakhand. The break-through, simply stated lies in, instead of one progeny each year the single induced flush has yielded as many as 11 progenies. Dr Kamal Singh, if I am not mistaken, continues to hold the national record in this field and he is a MVSc of our very own Pant Nagar University ! How many Secretaries of Uttarakhand are aware of this phenomenal achievement and talent in our midst and how many of our senior bureaucrats are gracious enough to acknowledge such achievements ? The developing nations are looking for such collaborations and would be happy to invite our achievers in setting up similar projects in their countries.

Visit to our Aromatic Plants Centre also got some coverage and it is on record that even senior officials and Ministers of our progressive neighbours, Himachal Pradesh, have marvelled over such achievements in Uttarakahnd. I distinctly remember when I visited the site in the company of that eminent scientists who transformed it its present state, Professor Aditya Purohit, way back in 2001-02. As ML Bhartiya Chair Professor Purohit attended this Centre, perhaps much more regularly than our officers visit their offices daily. However, while all dignitaries are taken to a ritual round to this Centre, whatever little I know about the treatment the scientists working here have met since year 2005, is nothing short of just scandalous. I do hope the new government will ensure that these centres of excellence of which Uttarakhand should indeed be very proud now receive a treatment which demonstrate that we care for our performers, and achievers.  In any other state and country, these two centres of excellence which have been developed from almost zero in this state, would have been accorded a place of honour and all round approbation.

Instead of spending time of these visiting dignitaries on power point presentations in seminar rooms the future visits should pay more attention, time and effort on elaborating on these achievements, take-aways and turn-key offers for developing nations. These happen to be just two illustrations that I have given. I am told that our presentation on Floriculture, by our young practising farmer, Sudhir Chaddha, also received appreciation and the visitors were keen to take the Uttarakhand experience in a turn-key mode. The treatment meted out to the Floriculture experiment at Chafi, one reliably learns, during the past couple of years leaves much to be desired. The point being made is that the only post event queries that are being made, or are likely to be made in future, would be such success stories, which are closer to ground realities.

Kashipur-Pantnagar  Agro- Hub : Turn Key Take Aways

I was a bit bemused to learn that today our Industrial Hubs have become a show-case, although only a few months back they were veritable targets of Inquiry Commissions. Chief Minister Bahuguna and all those officers who are presenting power-point presentation on Haridwar and Rudrapur Integrated Industrial Estates would do well to go through the birth-pangs as recorded by Sanjeev Chopra in his two books on their establishment ! Where have all those days of getting things done ‘yesterday’ gone, one wonders. The soft-belly of even these success-stories became apparent when I enquired from some of the entrepreneurs as to how the integrated effluent-plant arrangement is performing ? What SIDCUL and industries department officers should really be sweating about is the functioning of the effluent-treatment set up. Are the late –comers in any way disadvantaged compared to the early birds ? The Phase –II of the SIDCUL preparations must take these experiences, good or bad, on board, before embarking on the new extensions.

One word of advise for the opposite political party. Having expended hugely important and critical five years of their rule just on witch-hunting, instead of consolidating on the gains of the predecessor regime, now they should concentrate more on constructive politics, and not revert back to petty politics. The new government should also not fall in the trap of ‘paying back in the same coin’ by setting up counter Inquiry Commissions to enquire into this or that act.  All of us who have spent years and all waking hours of our time in just working for the state feel hugely disappointed by such counter-productive activities. Corruption at any level and by any one must not be tolerated but the right recourse is to strengthen all existing agencies to address this malaise and not mere posturing. As Chief Information Commissioner I had in one case pointed out how a complainant was made to suffer while the real culprit successfully influenced first the investigating agency and later the file –notings. The anti-graft investing agency itself needed the much desired kick to ginger it up !

To my mind, as I had suggested to the organizers of this Meet, our best show-piece is the region lying between “ Kashipur- Pant Nagar University ”. Our visitors should be taken to the First Agriculture University of the country, how it has been instrumental in transforming this area in particular, and entire India in general. This world-class University, with its more than 25,000 agricultural graduates and Post graduates and a whole bunch of Colleges, Institutes, thousands of progressive farmers, Turai Seeds Corporation, Agro-forestry revolution, state of art agro-processing units. Add to this the IIM, at Kashipur, Agri Business College, dozens various agro-based industries, floriculture revolution and so on, is easily the best show-case, in the whole of North India !

Agriculture for Farmer Prosperity : Sharing of Uttarakhand Experience

Kashipur-Pantnagar University-Rudrapur Hub story is a very gripping and powerful development story, gripping for all developing countries, who should really be our target in near fulture. Together this story presents a bunch of many technologies, farmer organization modules ( Turai Development Corporation ), diversification-efforts, value-addition experiments and above every thing else a story of how agriculture could be a trigger both for agri-based industries and adoption of new technologies for increase in productivity of agricultural species. Transformation from and in Agriculture should be the future theme of Uttarakhand story and a careful presentation of this central theme has in it a potential for long term individual and collective consultancies and turn-key offers from the visiting developing countries. My suggestion would be to ask IIM, PantNagar University, Turai Development Corporation, SIDCUL and various agro-based industries to sit together and make a customised presentation, including live visits to institutions, farmers families, industries etc, sharing how an Agriculture Institute has been able to transform the lives of farmers and farmers families, adding on to their incomes and living conditions, providing employment to thousands in agriculture based operations.   

Such customised presentations could be a year-long affair, providing further employment opportunities through foreign-collaborations, through successful presentations, round the year, for various categories of learners e.g. agriculture educationists, researchers, development practitioners, agro-industrialists, agri-managers, media persons, mass communication, administrators, planners etc.

I leave this core concept for serious consideration of the state government and I am sure if this is prepared with some care it would not only present a positive picture of the state and what has been experienced here but this would add several new employment opportunities to our youth, retired personnel from each of the institutions that would be involved in this sharing, though turn-key projects, exposure visits etc. One example I can readily quote relates to similar customised presentations by the Indonesian Government, whereby they share their successful implementation of their Family Planning programme. After participating in one such event, organised by BKKBEN, the apex organisation handling Family Planning Programme of the country, I had published a Monograph, entitled ‘Learning from a Learner’.  I would be happy to be part of developing such a live and interesting presentation for Uttarakhand, given the opportunity. The next Ambassadors’ Meet could be held there, testing such a model for developing nations.

R S Tolia

Late Dr. R.S. Tolia, Ph.D., was former Chief Secretary ( 2003-05 ) and Chief Information Commissioner ( 2005-10) of Uttarakhand. He also served in various voluntary positions after retirement and devoted his time for Mountain Development Agenda.

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