DR ZAFAR ALTAF
The question was posed to me by a senior civil servant of days gone by.
I had vehemently said yes and then I did some soul searching and found that the question posed some serious threats to the poverty-ridden social structures of this society.
Despite all the efforts agriculture sector demands and requires people of the highest integrity.
If you look at the agriculture research organisations at the federal level one will understand what has been happening here.
The federal research organisations are search and destroy organisations.
Whether these are in the field of agriculture or water or for that matter anything that has to do with science at the federal level?What has been happening is that the research organisations while recruiting their personnel they have not given enough importance to the criteria required for the perceptions that a researcher must have in order to determine the course of science.
At the moment the research organisations dealing with this subject are hardly doing any research.
A coterie of people has got to the positions that will enable them to keep all the personnel at loggerheads with each other.
The others are just as white elephant as this one in agriculture research.What is wrong then with the organisation that has had such massive investment by the taxpayers? All of them have been guilty of seeking higher education at the expense of the country’s resources.
It was my fortune or misfortune that I was in agriculture for a very long time and therefore must bear some responsibility for some of the weaknesses in the functioning as well as the structuring of the organisation.
There have been others before me but since two of us have held these positions [the other one every one knows] the brunt of the problems have not been resolved by the two of us.
I bear the responsibility through the legacy that I received from the highbrow researchers that have been here.The cognitive process has never been developed in the agriculture research organisations.
Since the cognitive aspect has never been developed the ability to find new avenues to deal with the issue at hand are relatively few and far between.
The legacy of the agriculture education [at least in the Punjab] is made obscure by the caste system that is prevalent here.
The people at the research organisations having come from the same university where this is practised indicates that there prejudices continue when they join service.It is petty thinking that has put research in such a state.
Of late some questions were posed to me by a senior journalist at the behest of someone who must have been rubbed the wrong way during my last tenure.
So the recruitment part was under question.
The website will tell you that I had recruited a thousand persons to various jobs and that most of them were either elites or relatives or whatever.
The senior journalist did me a favor by bringing a very strong issue to the forefront.
It was my luck that about a month ago an international organisation came to determine how we had done at research through a system called the peer review.
These were detached international researchers.
The work done during the two-and-half-year period came in to scrutiny by them I was put a lot of questions and since these minds were developed and internationally well-known I did have some trepidations.
The work done was documented and given to them.
The feedback was reasonably good and since I was at the centre of the research analysis that is where I would stop.What have these researchers done in the last two years may be seen from the expense that has taken place in legal fees as a result of the actions of these people.
They do not and cannot tolerate any one else in their midst and since they want a closed shop the recruitment process has to be to their liking and preferentially placement must be to their relatives.
One has to be the son or the son-in-law or the daughter-in-law of existing personnel to find favor in these positions.The political system too has its finger in the pie.
Heaven help the individual that does not play ball with them.
Their wishes have to be fulfilled and that is more or less in the field of getting jobs for their own people.
These are generally mass recruitments in which the criterion is violated at will.
Thus the jobs will be in one town and it will be placed in another place to fulfil the political requirements.
This is two-pronged for not only the political wishes are fulfilled but the doer finds himself near and dear to that very system.
So how will this system be able to deliver for the farmer?The developed mind is just not there.
The cognitive process has never been developed or never been made to perceive things that can be done.
The failure of the system is obvious now.
The inflation in the food items has been because of the failure of this research system.
The provinces are no better.
The failure of the education system is that it has brought in obsolete education in agriculture.
It has not kept pace with the way the research elsewhere has surged forward.
The same curriculum, the same attitudes of the social system and therefore in such a system either one joins them or one will have to pay dearly for trying to improve the system.
These are mafias of the agricultures underworld.
I do not discount myself and there has to be things that I would have done that do not meet the strict criterion.
But then if one has to change the polluted blood of the leukemia child what does one have to do? Does one add new blood to the old one or does one change the entire blood or screen it? SZAB’s lateral entrants in 1973 were one such action and there have been many more in the country’s organisational structures.The opportunity cost of not doing well by the country is immense.
The research mind is a fertile mind with not only cognitive but also intuitive knowledge that is furthered by the educational system.
For after all the educational system is based not only on formal degrees but also on the exponential knowledge that one has acquired in the course of one’s career.
This knowledge cannot be by definition of the cumulative kind and must perforce be based on ground realities.
Try sending the researcher anywhere in Pakistan and he will cry himself hoarse and try not to go there at any cost.
Why should they? Is it not true that the nearer one is to the power structure the easier it is to achieve self-gratification?The future is bleak.
There will be no way that the current system will take care of the food inflation.
It will not happen.
Keep on trading with India and keep on getting kitchen items from there.
The Toms of this world have made sure that the consumers will have to pay through their respective noses.
Get the act together? How through the political system? Want to bet? Pakistani consumer is going to be in a hell of soup.
This will lead to what Keynes called galloping inflation in which the very vitals of a society will be affected.
The failure of agriculture policymakers is obvious.
The entire sector is up for grabs.
The answer to the question posed in the headline is obviously in the negative.The solution is simple and cost effective but requires massive will and courage to fight the mafia that intrigues and exists in that form.
They are also the back stabbers in our system – clutching at your ankles when in power and then viciously intriguing at the appropriate moment.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012