January 29, 2017


I was in Japan in 1990 for seven weeks on an invitation from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).  JSPS had offered me their prestigious senior fellowship.  I was to lecture on Himalayan wild fruits at different universities and fruit research stations.  My host was Prof Hiroshi Yamamura of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Shimane University at Matsue.  Due to this my point of beginning was also
         At Shimane University, those days were the beginning of new academic session. New fresh students had just joined the university.  As it is known to all, in India the freshly admitted students, called “FIRST YEAR FOOLS” by the seniors, have the harrowing time of their student life.  They are asked to do funny odd things and laughed at. Sometimes they are also manhandled.  The practice is called ragging.  It existed when my father-in-law joined in B.Sc.Ag.  first year at the Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) Agriculture College in 1929.  It was there when I joined the Agriculture College, Ludhiana in 1955.  It still existed when I took voluntary retirement in 1992 from my service at the Horticultural University at Nauni, Solan.  It is existing even now in spite of the fact that government has declared ragging as a legal offense in India.  I do not know how and when it started in our country.  
         So it was a great surprise for me to see how the Japanese students treated or “ragged” their juniors.
         One evening my host Prof. Yamamura informed me that I was to accompany him to a party after the classes were over.  On my asking, he told me that the senior students were giving a welcome party to the newly admitted fresh students that evening and the teachers were also invited.
         We reached in the student cafeteria hall of the Agriculture Faculty biding.  All the students had gathered there.  After some short welcome speeches (which I could not follow as they spoke Japanese) by the senior as well as junior students, the party started.  Beer accompanied with some light snacks was served.  After some time when each of them had gulped one and a half to two bottles, the atmosphere changed.  All of them started enjoying.  There were songs and some dancing too.  Girl students were also in the party.  It was very decent, enjoyable and cordial atmosphere.  The party lasted for a little over two hours then all dispersed. 
         It made me seriously think why we can’t have that sort of “ragging” in our colleges in India.  Shouldn’t we take this lesson from Japan?
         Here are a few pictures I had taken on that day.  The pictures are as good as these were originally transparencies but still they convey the message.

 Myself sitting on left in the party alongwith Prof Hiroshi Yamamura

Other scenes of the same party

January 25, 2017


In 2004 I was invited to speak on Himalayan wild fruits at the annual conference of the North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) being held at Columbia in Missouri State of USA.  On my arrival there, I came to know that the other invited speaker was Prof. Jules Janick, author of the “Horticultural Science”, a book which is a primer for Horticulture students world over.  I was greatly thrilled by this news.  Nothing could be more exciting for me or even any other horticulturist to get an opportunity to meet a person like Professor Janick.

Here, let me tell something about NAFEX.  It is a sixty five years old organization of American fruit growers.   NAFEX members are those farmers who have interest in new fruit varieties of traditional fruits like apple as well as new and lesser known fruits.  Like in India, in US too fruit researchers do not show much interest in trials of new fruits and newly evolved fruit varieties.  So this group of farmers conducts informal research on new varieties in their orchards and then meet once a year at some place where they tell each other about the performance of new varieties tried by them at their orchards.  They also invite 2-3 specialists from universities of UDSA for speaking on fruits in their meeting. 

They first requested Prof. Janick to come to the dais for his introduction.  Then I was asked come.  As I reached the dais, the first thing I did was to bow down and touch the feet of Dr. Janick.  It just happened automatically.  I had no plans for it.  Standing at stage with a person of the level of Prof. Janick was very much thrilling and mesmerizing for me.  I could never imagine that there would be a day in my life when I shall be at dais alongwith a person like Dr. Janick.

Feet touching was also a new and probably unexpected site for the audience.  So, one of them captured this moment in his camera.  He then sent the photo to me in India.

Mr. Jerry Lehman, who was conducting the stage, got curious and asked me explain why I touched Prof. Janick’s feet.  I told them that bowing to touch someone’s feet was the highest honour given to anyone among Hindus.  In Hindus, a teacher has been placed at par with God and is therefore given this respect.  I and numerous others like me have learnt from the books written by Prof. Janick’s, particularly the book “Horticultural Science”.  So I regard him as my teacher though I may not have attended his classes.

Then later while talking to him during leisure hours, I narrated him the story of Eklavya (एकलव्य) and Guru Dronacharya(द्रोणाचार्य) from Mahabharat(महाभारत).  Eklavya was Guru Dronacharya’s student in absentia and so was I. This amused Prof. Janick a lot.  Then I told him that he had hundreds of Eklavyas in India.

I keep communicating with Prof. Janick by e-mail.  At the end of my mails I write, “Your Eklavya from India”.

Bowing to touch Prof. Janick's feet

With Prof. Janick 

Page 1 of Prof. Janick's famous book, "Horticultural Science".