An Appraisal and Some Suggestions
The formation of Society of Pesticide Science India in 1987 has been a historic step as it created and established a much needed platform for an interaction among the multidisciplinary functionaries involved in the subject. Prior to its formation, each discipline worked in isolation, leading to confusion in formulating a multidimensional approach necessary to promote a safe and scientific use of these chemicals in keeping with their multifarious functions. The Society has succeeded in highlighting the role of multiple factors such as active ingredient, its formulation, product quality, application technology, shelf and field life of the product, safety parameters etc. in obtaining the desired result from the use of these chemicals.
The Society’s existence has found due recognition at the national as well as international levels as evidenced by the activities and achievements of the Society listed above. It published quality literature and has sustained publication of a research journal during all these years. The seminars, symposia, conferences, group discussions, special lectures and the other events organized by it have not only enabled a learning experience for the participants from diverse domains but also forced the multiple functionaries and authorities in the field to sit and scratch their heads together to work out solutions to the various complex problems. The outcomes of these deliberations have not only signaled clarity and better appreciation of the existent discipline specific polarized ideas and thoughts but also educated and helped the masses in broadening their outlook. Typical instances may be cited of the national debates on the controversial endosulfan toxicity in Kerala State of India and report on the presence of toxicants in bottled water and carbonated beverages. The Society, through detailed discussions and critical write ups provided useful inputs in suggesting science based solutions to the problems. It initiated a national debate on formulating a pesticide policy by identifying the key points around which such a policy could be formulated. Recently, the Society took up with a national newspaper the issue of creating false public scare through unverified reporting on the use of pesticides in India. Due to Society’s activities, today the public has a better perception about the use and abuse of this important pest management tool.
Despite the tremendous effort by its members and the big strides made by the Society, it is time to identify areas of scope for further improvement so as to attain better functioning and performance of the Society. A brief appraisal with suggestions for improvement is provided below.
Management. The Society has been well managed and the results speak for themselves. However, the following suggestions for improvement are offered:
• The composition of Executive Council is headquarters heavy. The zonal representatives are hardly able to attend its meetings. It is primarily because of the long distances and the paucity of funds to support the cost of travel. However, participation of as many members as possible needs to be encouraged, and for this a financial support mechanism needs to be worked out.
• The creation of five national zones for the purpose of representation in EC is a wise step. However, its full utility will depend on the active participation of the zonal representatives in various activities and events of the Society. There is also a need to encourage effort at zonal level to promote the subject of pesticide science as also apprise the national membership about the various zonal / local issues related with pesticides. For the purpose, formation of zonal chapters may be considered. It will enable a synergy amongst different thinking minds to work together for finding out solutions to the problems. The zonal vice presidents should be motivated and empowered to play more active role in this respect.
• Establish active linkage between zonal activities and the EC. May be a representative of EC can be nominated to attend zonal meetings, events and the likes. The zones in turn should provide a brief report on their activities during the year. These reports should be duly highlighted in the journal or in the newsletter of the Society.
• The Corporate Members are apparently sleeping partners in the activities of the Society. There is a need to improve their participation in day to day working of the Society. The EC may seek brief write ups from them about the activities and achievements of their companies, future plans in the national and international perspective, turnovers etc. Profiles of Corporate Members can be published in the journal or the newsletter. The idea is to apprise the members with the strengths and weaknesses of Indian pesticide industry and seek viable solutions to their problems. It is also intended to strengthen bonds amongst the members and seek their active participation in the activities of the Society. Identification of a link person between the Society and the Corporate Member industry is suggested.
• The EC may consider issuing identity cards to its members / fellows. Such cards can highlight the Membership number along with certain key verifiable attributes of each member. The EC can deliberate on and finalize the privileges it can provide to its members.
Publication. Invite proposals from members for writing books, bulletins, special reports etc. Devise a mechanism for sharing credits. Provide assistance in bringing out quality information on regional problems related to the scope of Society’s mandate. Publish topical stories in association with the zonal members. Most of the pesticide related issues emerge at the zonal level and the Society needs to give cognizance to this fact. Newsletter can form a good vehicle to promote, strengthen and disseminate information on such activities.
• Develop policies and strategies to attract foreign contributions to the journal.'
• Improve quality of papers published in the journal. Editorial support may be rendered to those members who are good research workers but lack the art of presenting their researches properly.
• Encourage / invite topical reviews. This will help the readers in identifying virgin domains for research.
• Disseminate researchable domains to the membership of the Society.
• Improve punctuality of publication of the journal.
• Introduce on line submission and reviewing of manuscripts.
• Invite contributions from good laboratories.
Conferences, symposia, workshops etc.
• Improve the quality of submissions and presentation. Accept only new work and not that has been already published or presented elsewhere except in thematic presentations involving long/ life time work output
• Move out to organize the events in different zones
• Ensure dissemination of the key recommendations emerging from various events and the follow up action on the same.
• Bring out well edited proceedings for reference and record
• Encourage active researchers and scientists or others of achievement to present their work / achievements at the major events of the Society
• Improve the standard of lectures / quality of speakers at the Foundation Day of the Society
• Organize at least one more lecture besides the Foundation Day lecture every year
• Encourage zones to organize at least one lecture and or group discussion every year
• Be regular in selection of Fellows and give selected fellows the due mileage
• Publish the contributions of the elected fellows for the information of all members
• Invite fellows for lectures / talks
Awards Institute awards to encourage good work and workers. Make the process for selection of the awardees transparent and if needed, consider circulation of the proceedings of the selection committee meetings to all the members.
The activities and attainments of the Society highlighted in this overview provide the readers with glimpses of the endeavors pursued by it for promotion of pesticide science in India. It has succeeded in bringing to a common forum the pesticide fraternity comprising national and international community of scientists, educationists, industry, policy makers, polity, administration and others to emphasize the importance of a science based management of pests and pesticides and allied chemicals.
The word pesticide is misunderstood the world over; often considered synonymous with the word poison. In contrast, drugs with similar chemical and toxicological attributes as pesticide are much respected. The Society has tried to emphasize the importance of ‘management’ in both these categories of chemicals. It should try to emphasize the importance of ‘dose’ and use of right type of products in the right dose at the right time in the right way, in future. In other words, consumer education and enlightenment need to be the keywords of Society’s future activities and initiatives. Thus, improvement of image of the term ‘pesticide’ through need based use of environment benign products and technologies by an enlightened and educated consumer should be the focal point of Society’s future projections. Finally, the Society salutes the Indian pesticide fraternity for putting India on the global map of science based production and consumption of pesticides and assures its unstinted support for activities that lead to the furtherance of this national cause.