Benjamin Peary Pal obtained PhD (1932) from University of Cambridge, UK; and DSc (hc) from Panjab, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Haryana Agricultural Universities, and also from BHU and Sardar Patel universities. He worked as Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi; First Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); and Chairman, National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination.
Academic and Research Achievements:Dr Pal is well known for his contributions to crop improvement, particularly the breeding of superior disease-resistant wheats. His 15-year-term as Director saw further enhancement of the role and status of the IARI. As the first Director-General of the reorganized ICAR, he was largely responsible for the first phase of India’s Green Revolution. Pal also contributed to planning for environmental conservation. Pal was a prolific writer, popular as well as scholarly. The Roses in India, Beautiful Climbers of India, Flowering Shrubs of India, Bougainvilleas and Environmental Conservation and Development are among his well-known books. He also authored many monographs, one of them on Wheat.
Other Contributions:Pal was the architect of All India Coordinated Research Projects on crops, animals and fisheries. This greatly helped setting up of a large number of All-India Co-ordinated Research Projects, which would help to link India’s State Agricultural Universities and the Central Institutes of the Council into an integrated national network. In retrospect, these projects have become a model for organization of agricultural research for many developing countries having a federal structure. He served as a trustee of International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, during its formative years, and also served INSA as Editor of Publications (1966).
Awards and Honours:Dr Pal was conferred numerous awards, notably Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize (1957); Birbal Sahni Medal by Indian Botanical Society (1962); Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by INSA (1964); Grant Medal by Agri-Horticultural Society of India (1970); Barcley Medal by Asiatic Society (1971); Aryabhatta Medal by INSA (1980); GP Chatterjee Memorial Award by Indian Science Congress (1982); Sir William Jones Medal by Asiatic Society (1982); Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Award (1982); Padma Shri (1959); Padma Bhushan (1968); and Padma Vibhushan (1987). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London; Honorary Fellow, Linnaean Society, London; Foreign Member, Lenin All Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and French Academy of Agriculture; Honorary Member, Japan Academy, Genetics Society of Japan; President (sometime), Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Indian Botanical Society, Horticultural Society of India and Society for the Advancement of Breeding Researches in Asia and Oceania; and President, INSA (1975-76) and also Indian Science Congress Association.