09 July 2021, Punjab: After serving the Punjab Agricultural University as Vice-Chancellor for 10 years (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2021), Padma Shri Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon was biden adieu on July 8. A farewell party was organised which was attended by Mr Anirudh Tewari, Additional Chief Secretary (Development), Punjab and the new PAU VC; Dr RS Sidhu, Registrar; Dr NS Bains, Director of Research; Dr JS Mahal, Director of Extension Education; and other senior officials of the University. Dr. Dhillon was accompanied by his wife Dr (Mrs.) Paramjit Kaur Dhillon.
Mr Tewari said Dr Dhillon has earned great dignity among the scientific fraternity due to his progressive outlook and intellectual integrity.
Dr Sidhu said that Dr Dhillon’s detailed planning, organizational skills and team work have led him on the road to success. His acceptance of goals and challenges, and intensity of experience have gone a long way in bringing fruitful results and giving a new direction to the agriculture, he stated.
Dr Bains said that Dr Dhillon is a man of true merit and erudition, and a reservoir of agricultural spirit. His constant guidance, encouragement and motivation to the faculty of PAU led to the development of outstanding crop varieties and their production-protection technologies, he added.
Dr Mahal said that under the able stewardship of Dr Dhillon, outstanding work has been done in making rational use of natural resources, integrated nutrient management, integrated pest management (IPM), food processing and nutrition, and plant biotechnology and its application in crop improvement.
A world renowned scientist in the field of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, Dr Dhillon has served PAU as Director of Research, Director (Seeds) and Maize Breeder; Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as Assistant Director General and Director, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi; and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, as Director of Research. Prior to holding the reigns as VC, he served the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany; and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico, as Associate Scientist. As a maize breeder, Dr Dhillon made tremendous contribution by developing 16 varieties/hybrids including ‘Paras,’ the first single cross hybrid in India (1995).
As a VC since 2011, Dr Dhillon took numerous initiatives that catapulted PAU to greater heights. As a result of overall developments in research, teaching and extension programmes carried out under his leadership, PAU won the ‘Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award (2012-17), occupied top rankings among all Indian Agricultural Universities in the rankings by ICAR, and achieved top positions for research publications and citations among all State Universities as per CII-Indian Citation Index Reports.
Under his leadership, the University also developed and fortified linkages with industry, particularly, that of seed, food processing and farm machinery. Early maturing, high yielding varieties of paddy (developed by PAU, namely PR 121 and PR 126) have gained momentum among farmers and resulted in water and pesticide saving as well as in paddy straw management. The University also led the nation in the development of biofortified wheat (Zn rich), Bt cotton (bollworm resistant) and less seeded kinnow and vegetable hybrids/varieties to promote nutritional security, diversification and value addition. New farm machines and implements have been developed to address the issues of paddy straw management, spraying of pesticides and drying of produce. Apart from this, Dr Dhillon led the Joint Inter-State Campaign (Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan) that successfully managed the whitefly in cotton, resulting, in bumper crop with record productivity of 756 and 750 kg/ha of lint (compared to 197 kg/ha during 2015) during 2016 and 2017, respectively. He also led the campaign against paddy straw burning in 2018.
Dr Dhillon has bagged many prestigious scholarships/fellowships; is Fellow of several academies and has served as President and Secretary of various societies and journals. Having flair for scientific writings, Dr Dhillon has published ~ 400 research and policy papers, besides authoring/editing 13 scientific books. Recipient of several awards and honours, Dr Dhillon is a highly decorated scientist. He has been conferred with Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize by ICAR; Dr BP Pal Memorial Award (the apex award) and Recognition Award by National Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Om Parkash Bhasin Award for Science and Technology; Lifetime Achievement Award by Punjab Academy of Sciences; Gold Medal by ICAR-IARI and several others. He has also been awarded Asian Maize Champion Award by CIMMYT.