HAROON RASHID BHAT
As flowers never restrict their fragrance, likewise, the contributions by the different personalities from the various fields of life never remain unnoticed or unheard for a long time. Sooner or later, it comes into the public domain.
Our land – Kashmir has produced world-class scientists in various fields of life who by their unprecedented contributions not only brought laurels to this land but also became a source of inspiration for youth. One such Iconic figure was Dr. Abdul Qadoos Jan who gave his best contribution in the field of Agriculture especially in its allied field Floriculture. He played a key role in the introduction and evaluation of hybrid varieties of florist crops like Iris, Narcissus, and Daffodils. Ilium, gladiolus, Chrysanthemum, and his most celebrated work is related to the standardization of production technology of Tulips.
Born in a middle-class family in the lap of the Zaberwan Mountains on 13th April 1945 in the outskirts of Srinagar city – Brein which is 9 Km away from the main Srinagar city. At the end of his formal schooling, he wished to be an Agricultural Scientist. It was not an easy affair during those hard times to fulfill such a big dream as there was a lack of awareness, insufficient resources, and rare educational opportunities. But, it was his keen interest and strong commitment that he completed his B.Sc. Agriculture degree with the first position in 1967. Once he completed his degree, he began his professional career as the Demonstrator (Horticulture) in Govt Agriculture College Sopore Wadoora Jammu Kashmir. The initial phase of his service career remained dynamic in the sense that he got ample opportunities to render his duties as a special officer in various departments because of the shortage of professional faculty members during those times. He worked as an Agriculture Instructor in Govt. Education Department; rendered his duties as Agriculture Extension Officer in Rural Development Department JK. Apart from that, he was sharing his expert opinion with the Floriculture Department from time to time, acquainted them with the latest designs of landscaping.
To give more stability to his profession, he completed his M.Sc. degree through Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana in 1976, and for research work (Ph.D. program), he moved to Himachal Pradesh and achieved one more milestone by acquiring his Ph.D. from Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University Palampur in 1983 with a specialization in Vegetable crops and Floriculture.
Though he served SKUST- K, Shalimar for a long time through various capacities-as the Professor and Head Division of Olericulture, Pomology, Floriculture, Medicinal, and Aromatic Plants, In-charge, Director Resident Instruction Cum-Dean but his contribution as the Floriculture Scientist remain more dominant because of his best contribution in this particular field. Besides his over-busy schedule and routine engagements, he was associated with various boards and expert committees. He represented the University on the National platform as being the Nodal Officer for various assignments in the Indian Agricultural Universities of Scientists (IAUS). He also acted as the expert-cum-examiner at the Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research ( ICAR ), New Delhi.
As a visionary scientist, he strived hard to increase awareness about the Floriculture sector and its vast scope in generating economic opportunities for unemployed youth. To abbreviate his tenure period as the golden period for SKUST-K Shalimar in terms of his assiduous service in the Division of Floriculture, Medicinal, and Aromatic Plants never be an exaggeration. The university deemed an hour to accomplish many projects under his great guidance which gained global recognition. At the same time, he published many research papers, popular articles, book chapters, and book bulletins on various themes concerning the improvement and promotion of the different varieties of flowers as the cut flowers for commercial purposes. He conducted seminars, training sessions for the progressive formers to inspire them to opt for Floriculture as an employment opportunity. . Consequently, the fruit of such efforts has been seen on the ground. There are individuals and groups whose income is directly and indirectly linked with the Floriculture trade. One more credit goes to him that he produced the first batch of research scholars in Floriculture through this prestigious Institution.
Whether it is teaching, research or extension which are the key domains of SKUST-K Shalimar, his role as teacher, researcher, and propagator of modern technology in his concerned field is acknowledged by all. It was his sincere attitude, his dedication, and splendid contributions that he was conferred the special titled “Professor of Emeritus”
When the erstwhile state government established Islamic University Science and Technology at Awantipora. The University hired his service as the Landscape Consultant. It was his second inning that started just from his Post-retirement. It was not an easy assignment for him to develop the sloppy and rough patches of land in the newly established institution having insufficient field staff and underdeveloped infrastructure. It was a big challenge for him, but he accepted it and utilized all the available resources to give the glorious look to the campus.
Coming to his disposition, he was a nice human being imbibed with high moral values. My maternal grandfather late Gh. Qadir Bhat worked under him. He shared a very inspirational episode with me that reflects the kind and decent attitude of Jan Sahab. He narrated, “One day, the authorities of SKUST-K Shalimar arranged a sale cum exhibition program within the campus and Jan Sahib purchased a few Kgs of Potatoes for his personal use. While he was paying its price at the bill counter, I extended my hand for help and hold the bag with the intention that I would take the bag to his residence but he refused and addressed me with a smiling mood, “Jinab, Office time is over. Here, I am not your boss but a common person like you. I considered it against the morality if I will put my burden on you” He put the bag on his shoulder and boarded the local bus without caring about his formal rank. This is how he differentiated the formal and informal relationship. Honestly speaking, that particular episode fascinated me to write his brief life sketch.
So for my first interaction with him, I met him the first time at IUST- Awantipora. During my one year stay at the university, I got a rare chance to observe life closely. Whatever, I had heard about his professional life and character that had been reflecting from his actions. He will be remembered for days to come for his excellent works in the field of Floriculture. Hope his candles (Students) enlightened by him carry forward his mission and make this Floriculture sector as an economic driven asset for the state.
This eminent scientist left this transit world for good on the 28th of October 2019. The DDK- Srinagar remembered him on his first death anniversary and telecasted a brief documentary film regarding his professional life to give him the rich tribute. May Almighty Allah bless his soul the eternal peace!
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by profession, can be reached at email@example.com