Need For Innovative Technology in Agriculture

The importance of agriculture to India needs no mention. Although not the number one revenue generator for the…

The importance of agriculture to India needs no mention. Although not the number one revenue generator for the country but more people in India depend on agriculture than any other sectors. The uniqueness of the region lies in agriculture being more than just a profession, it provides sustenance and livelihood and is entwined with social and cultural beliefs. Ironically, agriculture has seen the least modernization in India than any other sector. There are many aspects that can be modernized in India and be up to date with the rest of world such as mechanization, post-harvest, logistics but everything starts with a better seed.

Dr. Shivendra Bajaj, Executive Director, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII)

Plant breeders in India have been improving crops and keeping up with the demand by developing new varieties either with the existing gene pool within the country or by bringing new germplasm from across the world and testing its suitability for India either as such or by crossing with existing Indian germplasm. The later part is very important to understand that we are constantly bringing new germplasm from outside India to improve our existing varieties. The breeding tools available to scientists have also undergone a major overhaul over the last few years with some tools only being available to Indian scientists. However, we must acknowledge and accept that developed countries are developing new and better tools that will accelerate their plant breeding process by leaps and bounds.

It is also important to note that the regulators in these countries are also keeping up pace with the developments to make the latest products available to the farmers. Among the new major breakthroughs, gene editing is very promising new plant breeding method that allows the breeders to make specific, precise modifications without the need for several generations of backcrossing, in contrast to conventional breeding in which modifications are achieved with crossing of two plants and then undergoing multiple generations of backcrossing to clean the undesired genes.

The precision and ease of the technology saves on time, labour and cost of introgressing multiple traits together. Since the costs associated with gene editing is low, several smaller companies will be able to invest in this breeding tool and develop varieties with new traits. However, the success of gene editing lies in the hands of the regulators, if the traits developed involvement of gene editing are heavily regulated, then the costs and time associated with de-regulation will make the development of new varieties through gene editing unaffordable to smaller companies. A practical approach by regulators such as determination that if the product developed through gene editing which is nearly indistinguishable to those developed through conventional or mutation breeding will not be regulated will highly encourage the investments in research. 

Another aspect that needs some attention is the seed trade, Indian government has been taking several steps to make India a global seed hub. However, if Indian policies on gene editing are not aligned with the rest of the world, seed production and movement will happen through the countries which have similar policies on seeds produced through gene editing and India will miss out on a major source of employment and revenue generation.

Policies aligned with rest of the world will not only enable Indian plant breeders to develop new varieties and enable farmers to increase production, it will also establish India’s leadership in innovation in the region.

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JGU Announces 100 Research Scholarships for the Graduating Class of 2020

The O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) has launched the Graduate Research Immersion Programme (GRIP) Scholarships to mentor and support the 2020 graduating students in overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19 on their careers and future plans. This unique and innovative scholarship programme will enable the 2020 graduating students of JGU to pursue a research immersion programme immediately after their graduation while finding their pathways and career opportunities at the end of the GRIP Scholars Initiative.

Under this path-breaking initiative, 100 research scholarships will be provided to meritorious graduating students of JGU to augment their research capabilities and other skills, besides enabling them to gain the much needed work experience.

The GRIP Scholarship Initiative is a six-month programme, which will commence from September 1st of this year. Under the initiative, GRIP Scholars will be selected through a competitive process from among the JGU students graduating in 2020. They will work closely with accomplished and outstanding global faculty of JGU and will be provided with generous and comprehensive institutional support from the university to further develop their competencies and skills.

During the programme, GRIP Scholars will benefit from one-on-one supervision, mentorship and guidance from JGU's reputed scholars in the disciplines of law, management, international relations, public policy, liberal arts and humanities, and journalism. The GRIP Scholars will also be encouraged to take active part in advancing JGU's research programmes through the university's 55 research centres and three research and capacity building institutes.

"The launch of this new and transformative scholarship programme aims to provide research opportunities for selected graduating students of JGU in 2020 to undertake an innovative research immersion programme at JGU. In the uncertain scenario of the academic world grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, it is impossible to predict the return of normalcy and the lifting of restrictions. The Graduate Research Immersion Programme (GRIP) Scholarships assists our graduates to ensure continuity and consistency in their learning, educational and career aspirations. The students are at the heart of what we are doing at JGU. There is no other moment in India's educational imagination and our own institutional history than now that our graduates need guidance, help, support and mentorship. The global pandemic has systemically impacted every aspect of higher education and it is important for universities rise up to the occasion to provide a helping hand to their graduates," said Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University.

"The GRIP Scholarship is a unique initiative that aligns with the founding vision of JGU to build a world-class university in India that will transform the landscape of higher education. Our students are at the centre of this vision, and the GRIP Scholarships are intended to be an empowering opportunity for the 2020 JGU graduates to overcome this crisis in a far more effective manner. The GRIP Scholarships Initiative of JGU is part of our vision to promote institutional values of University Social Responsibility (USR) with a view to providing leadership and support at this time of crisis," Professor Raj Kumar said.

The programme will provide unique and wide-ranging opportunities for GRIP Scholars to interact with industry experts, practitioners, lawyers, judges, leading national and international academics and researchers, journalists, government officials, and institutional leaders who are regularly hosted at JGU as part of the University's broad institutional agenda of advancing intellectual debates, discussions and collaboration across disciplinary areas and boundaries.

Apart from the scholarship in the form of financial support, JGU will provide accommodation and other benefits and privileges to the GRIP Scholars for the duration of the programme. The selected GRIP Scholars will need to be on the University campus for the duration of the programme as this not an online scholarship programme as faculty mentorship is a critical component of the programme.

The GRIP Scholarships Initiative addresses the challenges faced by our graduating students, enabling them to navigate the ongoing crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The ensuing lockdown and lack of opportunities or clarity to pursue learning or career streams has created uncertainty for many students. The objective of this programme is to support graduating students in their overall career progression and transition into their higher education or professional careers.

About O.P. Jindal Global University

O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is a multi-disciplinary and research oriented that is recognised by the Government of India as an "Institution of Eminence" (IoE). JGU is the only non-STEM and non-Medicine University, which has been recognised as an IoE. Founded in 2009, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is a non-profit global and research focussed university established by the Government of Haryana and recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC). JGU maintains a 1:9 faculty-student ratio and appoints faculty members from India and different parts of the world with outstanding academic qualifications and experience. With over 5,000 students and 550-plus faculty, studying and living on a fully residential campus, JGUs nine schools focus on law, management, international affairs, public policy, liberal arts & humanities, journalism, art & architecture, banking & finance and environment & sustainability. In 2019, JGU became the youngest university in India and the rest of the world to break into the QS World University Rankings 2020. JGU is the only Indian private university in the top 150 young universities in the world (under 50 years of age) in the QS Young University Rankings 2020. Recently, the Jindal Global Law School of JGU was ranked Number 1 in India and among the top 101-150 law schools in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2020 By Subject. JGU is also the first Indian university to receive the QS IGAUGE E-LEAD (E-Learning Excellence for Academic Digitisation) Certification for achieving excellence in promoting online education. JGU is an initiative of the Jindal Steel & Power Foundation.