“My conscience did not allow me to accept the award.”
Dr Varinderpal Singh, Principal Soil Scientist, Department of Soil Science, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has returned the prestigious ‘FAI Golden Jubilee Award for Excellence’ by the Fertilizer Association of India (FAI).
Dr Varinderpal Singh, Principal Soil Scientist, Department of Soil Science, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has returned the prestigious ‘FAI Golden Jubilee Award for Excellence’ by the Fertilizer Association of India (FAI). He has refused to accept the award to express his solidarity towards the farmers protesting against the three farm reform acts. He was being awarded for his and his team's work in plant nutrition. Dr Singh spoke with Indie Journal about his decision to return the award and why the people of India need to stand with the farmers.
1) What made you return the prestigious award?
Once we lose our land, lose our farmers, where would we go? It would ultimately be a destruction of the total socio-economic structure of the country. At the borders of Delhi, seven-eight-year-old kids are sitting in chilly winters. So it's the duty of the government to listen to them. They are not terrorists, they are not politicians. I wonder why isn't the government listening to them? Even senior BJP leaders are asking them to listen to the farmers.
My conscience did not allow me to accept the award. I felt like I would be betraying my country just for the sake of professional benefit. It was painful for me to return the award. It's my last decade's work that was being acknowledged. But I could not accept it.
2) Would you tell us about your research that earned you this award?
I am leading ‘Site-Specific Nutrient Management Laboratory’ at PAU, and have developed ‘PAU-Leaf Colour Chart (PAU-LCC)’ technology for optimising the consumption of urea in field crops. The PAU-LCC technology provides a potential solution of reducing urea consumption.
This could save the annual expenditure of more than Rs 750 crore in Punjab. The transfer of technology to all the states in India will produce substantial annual economic benefits to farmers and GOI. Improved quality food grains, reduced consumption of insecticides/pesticides, prevention of air and water pollution could also be achieved after the adoption of PAU-LCC technology are priceless.
3) Farmers have been accused of protesting against the laws without actually reading or understanding them. As a scientist, why do you oppose these laws?
There is nothing to benefit farmers, there is nothing to benefit the nation. It is very dangerous to the whole country. This is the death of runts of India. Just like the East India Company, the companies will take over India. So every citizen must take this seriously, no one should take it casually. This is the concern of every citizen of India.
We shall stand with India. We must tell our Prime Minister that these laws are not in the interest of India - not socially, not economically, not scientifically.