SKUAST Kashmir is organizing Exhibition-cum-seed sale mela on March 10-11, 2018. It highlights the varsity's concerns for upliftment of the farming community, and its role and contribution towards agriculture and allied sectors of the valley. Hon'ble Vice-Chancellor Professor Nazeer Ahmad has been instrumental in organizing the mela since 2015. Such events have tremendous significance as it brings together scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers and industrial firms etc and provides a platform for exchange of views and information. It offers farmers and general public an opportunity to buy quality seeds, scientifically proven planting material, agricultural equipments, organic manure, near-organic eggs, proven birds' fit-for backyard poultry farming, near organic milk, quality sheep/cattle germplasm etc. It also enables scientists to interact with the farmers and address their grievances, and focus more on need-based and applied research. In nutshell, it is an excellent example of imparting practical education.
Among the major functions of universities posited by Manuel Castells (2011), generation of knowledge through scientific research, and skilled work force are the most frequently emphasized in the contemporary times. Castells also suggests that universities are subjected to more implicit pressures from the host society, that this combination – of implicit and explicit pressures and of local and universal functions – generates contradictions in their roles. The distinctive character of each higher education system lies in how these contradictions are managed. Universities can't afford to be insensitive to changing local and global scenario, albeit take a leading role in societal transformation. "Stagnant universities are expansive and ineffectual monuments to a status quo which is more likely to be a status quo ante, yesterday's world preserved in aspic" very rightly, though harsh, said by Dahrendorf, 2006.
Given the fact that 60-70 % of state population is associated with agriculture and allied sectors coupled with rapidly changing farming practices due to shrinking agricultural land and climate change, agricultural universities have to shoulder the responsibilities of poverty alleviation and social development. Applied research, transfer of technology from lab to land and higher education needs to be looked at beyond the current practices. The mandated establishments need to reinvent themselves in order to meet the changing needs of agri/livestock farmers and economies. In this framework, providing services to the community – of which, support to basic education is a part – becomes an important focus. Holding kisan mela, of which farmer-scientist-industry interface in an important component. seems to be an effective endeavour by SKUAST in this direction, and entire organization deserves appreciation.
Taking last two years experience of visiting the varsity mela into consideration (> 2 lac people visited last year), I, as a commoner with sound rural back ground and a well-wisher of the mela would like to submit following suggestions for larger success of the event.
That, a complete list of the items (agriculture/livestock) and their number (approx.) available for sale be published in a reputed daily, and a sale window be established for pre-sale booking to avoid long-time queue waiting stress on the interested parties.
That, a couple of trusted and interested Veterinary Pharmaceutical Companies be invited to display their items and allowed to sell their medicine against a proper prescription.
That, highly successful agri/livestock entrepreneurs from each district and job providing companies (if possible) be invited for interaction with outgoing graduates for exploration of job avenues.
That, an advisory regarding ban on use of polythene be issued; lid-type dust bins be kept at the venue especially in and around the food courts for effective disposal of the waste, and free drinking water facility be made available for the visitors.
That, functional foods with good research background from SKUAST like mutton/chicken nuggets, fortified lasi/dahi/milk, phirni, patties, fish pakodas, etc be put on sale and/or feedback from the public.
That, novel and eco-friendly waste disposal methods as researched by the varsity scholars be demonstrated (live or through video) to the progressive farmers/general public.
That, a theme (e.g. Doubling the Farmers' Income) based model competition (one model from each faculty) be organized for students to evoke greater interest among the students and simultaneously highlight the ICAR slogan and university priority.
Looking forward to see a sea of people thronging SKUAST-Kashmir on the scheduled days, sharing their love and affection and singing mellifluously "Aaye bahar ko hum baant le, zindagi ke pyar ko ham baant le"
Wishing my best to SKUAST (Kashmir) KISAN MELA – 2018
The views expressed don't represent the views of the institution the author works for