Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University
In the imperial Gazetteer of India 1878, Pusa was recorded as a government estate of about 1350 acres in Darbhanba. It was acquired by East India Company for running a stud farm to supply better breed of horses mainly for the army. Frequent incidence of glanders disease (swelling of glands), mostly affecting the valuable imported bloodstock made the civil veterinary department to shift the entire stock out of Pusa. A British tobacco concern Beg Sutherland & co. got the estate on lease but it also left in 1897 abandoning the government estate of Pusa.
Lord Mayo, The Viceroy and Governor General, had been repeatedly trying to get through his proposal for setting up a directorate general of Agriculture that would take care of the soil and its productivity, formulate newer techniques of cultivation, improve the quality of seeds and livestock and also arrange for imparting agricultural education. The government of India had invited a British expert. Dr. J. A. Voelcker who had submitted as report on the development of Indian agriculture. As a follow-up action, three experts in different fields were appointed for the first time during 1885 to 1895 namely, agricultural chemist (Dr. J. W. Leafer), cryptogamic botanist (Dr. R. A. Butler) and entomologist (Dr. H. Maxwell Lefroy) with headquarters at Dehradun (U.P.) in the forest Research Institute complex.
Surprisingly, until now Pusa, which was destined to become the centre of agricultural revolution in the country, was lying as before an abandoned government estate. In 1898. Lord Curzon took over as the viceroy. A widely traveled person and an administrator, he salvaged out the earlier proposal and got London’s approval for the appointment of the inspector General of Agriculture to which the first incumbent Mr. J. Mollison (Dy. Director of Agriculture, Bombay) joined in 1901 with headquarters at Nagpur
The then government of Bengal had mooted in 1902 a proposal to the centre for setting up a model cattle farm for improving the dilapidated condition of the livestock at Pusa estate where plenty of land, water and feed would be available, and with Mr. Mollison’s support this was accepted in principle. Around Pusa, there were many British planters and also an indigo research centre Dalsing Sarai (near Pusa). Mr. Mollison’s visits to this mini British kingdom and his strong recommendations. In favour of Pusa as the most ideal place for the Bengal government project obviously caught the attention for the viceroy.
Before the above proposal could be implemented, certain interesting developments had taken place which brought Pusa directly in the limelight in the history of agriculture of modern India. Probably the most important one was donation of $30,000 by an American, Mr. Henry Phipps of Chicago. Baroness Curzon was the daughter of an American millionaire and Mr. Phipps as a family friend used to visit India and stay as guest of Curzon. In the words of Lord Curzon, the amount had been offered to him by the donor for utilizing it in whatever way de desired. The decision of lord Curzon went in favour of agriculture. It is said that the name of the place Pusa is the abbreviated form of Phipps of U.S.A. (Pusa) but many people say that the name of the village Pusa existed even before.Since four and half lakh of rupees meant much in those days, the establishment of a full-fledged agricultural research institute and college was contemplated with parallel government support subject to the approval of the home government. As regards the location, Dehradun had its claim being the seat of the three government experts, but the expert committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Millison unanimously recommended Pusa a the most suitable place. One might guess as to what extent the planters around Pusa who would obviously be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, had influenced the decision of the Mollison committee. As a final outcome, the viceroy and governor general in council sent a comprehensive proposal on 4th June,1903 to the British cabinet for establishing an agricultural research institute and college at the government estate of Pusa It highlighted among many other things, the need for initiating research activities. Crop production strategy and having a model cattle farm and Agricultural College. With the services of the three experts at Dehara dun and appointment of a few more, Pusa became a nerve centre of future development of the country’s ;agriculture. It also identified the would be director currently working at the indigo project started getting into action. The first Director, Mr. B.Coventry jointed on April 1, 1904. Top level experts from Indian and England were consulted in working out the various details. The three specialists came down from Dehradun to head their respective sections being given as imperial status, like the Imperial Entomologist, who would also continue to exercise their all-Indian jurisdiction as before.
The foundation stone of the Agricultural Research Institute and college was laid by Lord curzon on the 1st of April, 1905. In his speech, the viceroy had expressed his vision that the seed he was planting would soon blossom out, making Pusa the nucleus of agricultural activities, research and education which would not only benefit Bihar and Bengal but the whole of the country and would attract the best of talents from India and abroad. In separate meeting with the Bihar Planters Association, he fervently hoped that the institute would-be of immense service to them in their grave hour of crisis caused by the German Indigo scientist.Lord Curzon left by the end of 1905 and Lord Minto was his successor. Till the last minute he had seen through each and every detail of the Pusa project which virtually was his brainchild. Incidentally one major issue on which he had not agreed was the architecture of the main building, its wings, vaults and arches but finally he gave his consent of course with a stint.
At the site of present sugarcane research institute at Pusa, once stood a magnificent two-storeyed gigantic structure in ornate range with flat roof surmounted by a massive dome known as Phipps laboratory. This grained edifice came up by 1907-08, housing the sections of botany, chemistry, mycology,entomology and one library. Phipps laboratory was also called as “Naulakha” building by local people. Quite a few renowned scientists arrived from England including an imperial agriculturist, and imperial economic botanist. Then came up the issue of starting the college. As per the original proposal (1903) the experts were assisted in the teaching programme by a number of junior teachers, instructors, field overseers etc. and some transferred from the shibpore (Kolkatta) college which was not functioning well and was to be closed down. Meanwhile soon after the departure of lord curzon and with the active support of the educational advisor to government of India, the proposal for opening four agricultural colleges at sabour (Bihar) , Nagpur (Central Provinces) comibnatore (Madras) and Lyallpur (Punjab, now in Pakistan) had been got through and work started in a ;phased manner. So the original idea of undergraduate education at Pusa was changed over to an institute of postgraduates studies. Two year postgraduate diploma courses were formulated in four disciplines and a one-year postgraduate diplomas courses were formulated in four disciplines and a one-year programme in Agriculture (later changed to two years). Besides, there was several short-term courses for in-service candidates. In 1908-09, the first batch of students, for Licentiates in Agriculture(L.Ag’s) and university graduated in science were admitted. The wishful thinking of the educational advisor as early as in 1907 that Pusa would become a centre of excellence in agricultural research and education and could become an agricultural university itself did come out true after half a century with the stating of the postgraduate school at the institute’s new home at the Indian agricultural research institute(I.A.R.I), new Delhi. Remarkably a few years later his thinking came true at Pusa itself where the Rajendra Agricultural University stands today and undertaken imparting of UG and PG training in various disciplines.
Dr. Albert Howard and his wife Gabrielle worked on wheat and revolutionized the age-old wheat cultivation especially in the large rainfed tracts of Bihar and U.P.S.J.F. Shaw also evolved many varieties in other crops. Some the the best selections or Rice, chilles, tobacco, linseed, mustard, pulses and vegetables benefited both the planters and the farmers. Research on the taxonomy, ecology and control of insect pest by H.M.Lefroy,T.B.Fletcher and H.S.Pruthi. On plants pathogens by R.A.Butler, W.M.Macrae, M.Mitra and B.B.Mundkur and on bacteriology by W.M.Hutchinson will ever remain as classical accomplishments. An outstanding example stands in Pusa’s success in cattle improvement of the purely indigenous sahiwal stock brought from the Punjab on the Bihar soil. A special mention must be made of the monumental contributions of Dr. J.W.leather on manuring of corps, water requirements of plants, drainage studies in Bihar and reclamation of Saline-Alkai Soils. For the first time dissemination of important and practical results of research was taken up through Pusa Bulletins, memories of the department of agriculture, and the agricultural journal of India (1912). Rightfully, Pusa received an imperial status in 1918, being renamed as the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
Devastation came with the great Bihar Earthquake in January,1934. The ravages of destruction were badly felt at Pusa as well and the worst victim was the massive Phipp’s laboratory. One may must wonder how the remarks on the file made by Lord Curzon (who was no more in this world) about the weaknesses in the design of the building came out as frightfully true with its wings and arches totally crumbling down. Bihar received a shock, when in the year 1935, the imperial Agricultural Research Institute was shifted to New Delhi.
The fate of the phipp’s laboratory having been doomed, the government decided to abandon Pusa once again by shifting the imperial institute to once through of location at Dehradun but the controlling department (education, health and Lands) and the then viceroy (lord willingdon) decided its shifting in favours of Delhi. Towards the end of 1936 the imperial agricultural research institute (IARI) started functioning at its new home on sprawling areas northwest of new Delhi. Thus, Pusa of Bihar lost this great temple of agricultural education and research. Pusa estate were then purchased by the government of Bihar at a nominal cost of RS. 205000, the Government of India still retaining a portion of it to serve as regional station of its main research institute at New Delhi. Pusa estate since its purchase by the Govt. of Bihar has undergone a series of changes with the dawn of independence and one finds today a number of institutions located here along with the sugarcane research institute which is the major scientific organization at Pusa and one of the biggest centres of sugarcane research in the country.
A multidisciplinary sugarcane project, supported by the Indian central sugarcane committee was already operating since 1932 at the provincial government farm at Musheri, near Muzaffarpur which got the legacy of the erstwhile institute, minus the phipp’s laboratory. This project was later shifted to Pusa after the earthquake. After shifting of imperial institute from Pusa to New Delhi. The sugarcane research institute established at Pusa has served to satisfy the cause of sugarcane growers in the state by providing novel technologies. The I.A.R.I., regional station located at Pusa had been working towards development of wheat varieties Tobacco Research Station at Pusa has also bred a good number of varieties of chewing tobacco and are popular in farmer’s field.
The agricultural college which had featured in the 1903 Pusa scheme but had been nipped in the but, did actually materialized in the sixties as the Tirhut College of Agriculture, Dholi . Now the Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU) has established (1970) itself at Pusa and has become an important landmark in agricultural research & education in the eastern region of the country. The Rajendra Agricultural University now at Pusa has various faculties and constituent colleges namely, Tirhut College of Agriculture (Dholi) Muzaffarpur, Bihar Agricultural college, Sabour (Bhagalpur), Bihar veterinary college, Patna, Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Dairy Technology, Patna, College of Fisheries, Dholi (Muzaffarpur) College of Home Science, College of Agricultural Engineering, College of Basic Sciences & Humanities and a postgraduate Faculty at Pusa In RAU located at Pusa, M.Sc. Degree is awarded in 34 and Ph.D. in 17 disciplines. There is one central Library, one 450 seat capacity of Boy’s Hostel, one University Girl’s Hostel, a VIP Guest House, Kisan Ghar, IKH Bhavan, Sanchar Kendra, ATIC building, administrative complex, flax house & cluster of residential building. The old imperial time 14 bungalows & other residential quarters are still holding the ground with imperial touch.
In present Pusa, apart from the University a number of other organization such as Regional Research Station of IARI, New Delhi., Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), Women’s Teacher Training School, Campus Public School (affiliated to CBSE), Kendriya Vidyalaya, Rajendra Sishu Sadan, Govt. Basic School, Govt. High School, Govt. Girl’s High School, Uma Pandey College, Brahmadeo Rai Sharma Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Community Development Block, a referral hospital, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Syndicate Bank, State Bank of India, Cooperative Training Centre, Post Office, Office of Telecommunication and Pusa Police Station etc. are also functioning and contributing to the all round growth and development of Pusa Estate.
Pusa has thus faced many ups and downs since July 5, 1784 when a stud farm was established through a sanad with the seal of East India Company at a rental fee of 1500 Siccas for the land occupied where captain W. Frazer was the superintendent of the farm. Even today Pusa is contributing a lot to the field of agricultural education and research and holds a bright future.
Considering the importance of this land in agricultural research, Govt. of India decided to change the status of Rajendra Agricultural University from the State Agricultural University (SAU) to Central Agricultural University (CAU) and was renamed as Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University. To accomplish this a bill was passed by the Parliament on May 28, 2016 which was enacted as Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University Act, 2016 with effect from October 07, 2016.