30% of gov agri-scientist posts vacant

30% of the 6,500 scientist posts in India’s premier agricultural research body is lying vacant, according to minister of state for agriculture Harish Rawat. Nearly 1,960 scientist posts, mostly at the level of ‘Senior Scientists’ are lying vacant in the Indian Council for Agircultural Research (ICAR), the minister said in response to a query by MPs Dr P Venugopal and P Kumar.

ICAR and its sister network DARE have nearly 700 institutions, including Krishi Vigyan Kendras, across the country and has an annual budget of around Rs 2,300 crore this year. The network includes 45 research institutes and 4 universities.

While the government did not say how such a large number of vacancies came to be created, a senior ICAR official blamed it on an unofficial ‘no hiring’ directive from the government. “There have not been recruitments to replace scientists who retire,” he said, adding the cost-cutting policy has been in place for more than ten years. Recruitment, by the Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board, has been set in motion over the last one year, he added.