Outlook brings you an exclusive Q & A session with Dr. Gopal Krishna the Director & Vice Chancellor of ICAR-CIFE, Mumbai, A Deemed University
With changing national perspective in fisheries and the growing stature of ICAR-CIFE, the Institute has following mandates:
• Conduct Post-graduate programmes in fisheries science.
• Basic and strategic research in frontier areas of fisheries science.
• Human Resource Development, capacity building and skill development through Training, education and extension
Please tell us about the achievements of ICAR-CIFE since you took over in 2016.
Incalculate quality in higher fisheries education, syllabus revision and reformation exercise was undertaken with BSMA to bring in innovative changes. To cater to changing training needs and improve floodplain fisheries through scientific methods, a regional Center was established in Motipur, Bihar.
Skill development programs of 1-year and 6 months’ duration on aquaculture/hatchery management were introduced at the Kakinada and Rohtak centers of the ICAR-CIFE. Our endeavor is to make ICAR-CIFE, Rohtak Center the “ Center of Excellence in Inland Saline Aquaculture”.
A National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) on Energy Efficient and Environment Protective Aquaculture Technologies for Degraded Soils of Haryana (funded by World Bank) was developed with an outlay of Rs. 19.94 crores. Under the project, faculty and students are exploring innovative technology to address the issues of resource-poor farmers in such disadvantaged areas. The faculty and the students were also deputed to overseas Centers of Excellence and Referred Laboratories to develop competence in specialized areas. During 2019, this deemed university ranked 7th among the Agricultural Universities of India.
ICAR-CIFE has also developed a DNA vaccine against WSSV for shrimps which is being up-scaled for obtaining regulatory approval for field trials. The scientists are also developing a bi-cistronic DNA vaccine construct for protection against pathogenic bacteria, Edwardsiella tarda.
National and International exposure of students for development of competence and capacity is an important commitment. The focus is also on bagging externally funded projects for the Institute in different areas of fisheries. As of now, the Institute is working on projects worth more than Rs. 4,000 lakhs.
What was the idea behind setting up CIFE as a Deemed University?
India is rich in fisheries resources. The Indo-Gangetic plains are blessed with perennial rivers, the Deccan Plateau is enriched with seasonal ponds getting water from regular monsoons, and coastal India is rich in marine fishery resources. However, immediately after India’s independence, the need to develop qualified human resources in the field of fisheries and aquaculture was felt. Hence, CIFE was envisioned as a training institute for the officers of the State Fisheries Departments. At first, a Diploma in Fisheries Science was offered, and the syllabus was finalized with the help of the Institute of Science, Bombay and F.A.O., Rome. On the strength of achievements under the guidance of visionary Directors, we became an ICAR Institute in 1979.
Which courses are being offered at this University and what is your intake capacity?
The Institute offers M. F. Sc. and Ph. D programme in 11 disciplines of fisheries science covering various specializations, viz. Aquaculture, Fisheries Resources Management, Post-Harvest Technology, Aquatic Environment Management, Aquatic Animal Health, Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, Fish Nutrition & Feed Technology, Fish Genetics & Breeding, Fish Biotechnology, Fisheries Extension and Fisheries Economics. Students with B.F.Sc. degree are eligible for the master’s program through an all-India examination conducted by ICAR. Every year, we admit 97 students in Masters program (M.F.Sc.) and 67 in the PhD program.
How is the university adapting to the changes in post Covid-19 era?
Following all government guidelines, the Institute has conducted all classes and examinations through online platforms. Our M.F.Sc. degree includes one year of research work, and the lockdown happened a few months before completion of that period. ICAR-CIFE faculty ably faced the challenge of completing student dissertations and evaluation online.
How is the placement support and opportunities in the Industry post completion for students?
The Institute guides the students for their placement through PDCC (Personality Development and Career Counseling Center) and ensures 100% placement. The students are placed in foreign laboratories and private companies. ICAR- CIFE also has an incubation unit ABI (Agri-Business Incubation) to facilitate entrepreneurship in the sector. Some of the ICAR-CIFE alumni are performing very well as Aqua-Entrepreneurs.
What is the one thing that attracts students from all over India to Join ICAR- CIFE -a deemed University?
At ICAR-CIFE we provide an exceptional learning experience and encourage students to grow into conscious, confident and capable individuals. Our students find employment as ARS Scientists, Assistant Professors, officials in State Fisheries Departments, banks, etc., and researchers in overseas labs. They are also equipped to be self-employed.
Please tell us about the awards and recognition conferred on ICAR-CIFE.
ICAR-CIFE is the leading and only national fisheries deemed university. It was ranked 7th among all Agricultural University in the year 2018. Many faculty received prestigious awards from ICAR. We have received appreciation letters from the state governments of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram etc.
What is your long term vision for the University?
I would like ICAR-CIFE to keep its edge by constantly self-innovating its pedagogy and setting new standards of higher education to meet the changing needs of the country and the world. I hope that we shall continue to attract the best talent in the country and produce human resources committed to achieving sustainable food security through fisheries. The New Education Policy 2020 has set clear goals and we are envisioning ways to incorporate its guidelines to achieve holistic education. I also envisage a bigger role in skill development through targeted programs in order to generate livelihood opportunities in the country. At the same time, I look forward to an enhanced international appeal of this University through introduction of new courses and distance education programs.