By Dr. Ishfaq Jamal
With the announcement of the establishment of a Horticulture university in J&K, the demand for establishment of veterinary and fisheries university in Kashmir is again reiterated. Skuast-K Veterinary Scientists Association(SVSA) is at the forefront in highlighting the importance of veterinary sciences , its contribution in economy and future prospectus in our state. Many articles have been published in various dailies of Kashmir about this issue . I, as an alma atter of faculty of veterinary sciences SKUAST-K too want to raise certain points on this issue.
It seems that most of the scientists who have highlighted the issue of importance of setting up of a separate veterinary university in J&K have over emphasized and exaggerated on the outputs of establishment of veterinary university, as if it is the only solution of plethora of problems that veterinary sciences as a profession and as a sector is facing in our state. The ever increasing unemployment of vet graduates and lost glory of one of the dynamic professions can never be cured and restored by just changing the name plates of an already established faculty. If we look at the statistics, SKUAST-K which was established way back in 1982 has a good track record in imparting education , research and extension work. Bu, the recent rankings by ICAR showed that SKUAST-K performed very poorly compared to various other agriculture and vet universities in India.
Looking at the trend of establishment of separate veterinary universities in other states , it is not a success story everywhere . These new universities have struggled in attracting funds from central and state governments and have not come up to the expectations. SKUAST_K, after 2004, started increasing its intake capacity especially under self finance quota in order to raise funds for the university. Now, about 100 students enroll for B.V.Sc degree in SKUAST-K and same is the scenario with SKUAST-J. Increasing the intake capacity is a major reason for unemployment. A separate vet university means a further increase in intake capacity and thus more and more lots of unemployed vets.
The queries that are being raised like vet faculty is not getting enough funds in comparison to agriculture thus affecting the research in veterinary sciences may be right to certain extent. But, then in the same faculty the department of biotechnology which produced the worlds first pashmina goat clone” Noori” has been able to attract national and international funding for research work It is good research work rather than a separate university which guarantees attracting funds for research. Coming to the extension work, we do not find any major contribution by our worthy scientists even in the vicinities of F.V.Sc Shuhama leave alone whole valley.
Unemployment is the biggest problem that vets in our state are currently facing. Leave aside government jobs even there are very less chances of excelling in private sector in our state. The faculty of vet sciences has not been able to organize workshops and seminars for attracting young entrepreneurs towards this sector. Even the vet graduates are not willing or well equipped to adopt entrepreneurship as a career. The faculty has not a single business incubator for any start ups in this era of make in India and start up India.
We cannot afford a professional university which produces graduates who end up in applying for clerical jobs. In my opinion, instead of the creation of a new university, strengthening the twin departments of animal and sheep husbandry could play a major role in addressing many problems which the sector is facing. The departments are facing acute shortage of trained manpower and infrastructure. We have more than 1000 unemployed vet graduates with Masters and PhD’s who, if given opportunity, can bring laurels to this sector. The government, should on immediate basis, clear the file of 420 posts of veterinary assistant surgeons hanging in the finance department of civil secretariat and the subsequent 220 DPC posts should also be advertised immediately. New vet centers should be set up in required areas and those which are already established should be upgraded. Both these departments can play a pivotal role in providing vet health services, extension services and create a suitable environment for setting up of various enterprise of animal farming.
—The author is an Alma matter of SKUAST-K and the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org