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BLOG-30: A seminar on seminars?

These days everywhere you turn, you see and hear about seminars, conferences and workshops. But very few of these add value by contributing to improving the quality of debate, programme implementation or the policy process, argues Shri Suresh Kumar.

Shri Suresh Kumar, former Additional Chief Secretary & Principal Secretary (Agriculture), Government of Maharashtra acted as the Chairman of the 12th Plan “Working Group on Agricultural Extension for Agriculture and Allied Sectors” constituted by the Planning Commission. Mail:



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  • Even you wish to organise a seminar on the suggested lines, many will raise their eye brows with the comments After conducting several seminars now they want to teach us how to conduct a seminar ? It is very difficult for many of them to accept that the seminars they organised are a waste of money or did not contribute much to the advancement of scientific knowledge. First they need to be sensitised what they were doing was not in order and there is lot of scope to improve. Any how this blog helps many to realise if not openly that seminars did not serve the objectives which they have set.

  • Excellent Blog on an important issue on which there cannot be any second opinion. The anguish, frustrations and suggestions of everyone including Dr.Prasad, Dr. Rao, Dr.Sivakuamr, Shri Suresh Kumar and many others ably expressed through these Blogs, if find a place in implementation plan of the concerned, perhaps something good will happen to all of us. The narration of Shri Suresh Kumar reminds me of guidelines already available in academic institutions such as IARI (eg. PG School Guidelines, called the Green Book) on evaluation of courses and teachers by students, selection of thesis topics, guides and research advisory committee, synopsis seminars, thesis colloquium which when followed always produced quality scientists. Similarly as you know there are professional mechanisms to test the competencies of scientists and teachers as a part of service rules. Also at least in sponsored/funded seminars/workshops, there is a proforma covering the essential points to organize them and a proforma to be again submitted by the organizers to report back on the details of participation, outcomes, policy recommendations, etc. But the moot point is that all these Dos and Donts in every sphere remain as formalities and therefore the business as usual continues without interruption. But it is high time that the practice should stop and the suggestion of Shri. Suresh Kumar to further educate the potential organizers of such events by organizing a Seminar on Seminars by MANAGE/NAARM is timely.

  • I am happy and satisfied that my blog has evoked creative response from various corners. I am too glad that Mr.Suresh Kumarji (all extension professionals should respect and also emulate his passion for extension) has critically analysed the need for organising seminars in a scientific and forward looking manner. I may request all the extension professionals to imbibe the essence and spirit of the intellectual blog of Suresh Kumarji. What is now needed is action. Who will bell the cat? Can any extension professional body or institution come forward and take this as a challenge?

  • I agree with your proposal.We need to improve the effectiveness of seminars, conferences and workshops. These events should be used to improve the working modalities to help reach our goals. Let us try to make these events more effective.

  • Its a fantastic topic to be critically viewed. Every seminar should begin with what has been the follow-up on the recommendations of earlier one(s) in the similar field. Also, me and Shri. Suresh Kumar ji have been promoting an idea of having Recommendation Monitoring and Implementation Committee(RMIC) constituted at the end of every seminar so that each or important recommendations are acted up on periodically taking all the stake holders on the board. Group exercise is better than every thing pushing to plenary. It is important to discuss the topic soliciting everybodys views as opposed to the series of powerpoint presentations and nothing to gain at the end of the day. Rather having a theme paper followed by open discussion appears to be good format. May be Dr Chandrasekhara of MANAGE could take a lead in outlining the modalities for seminars/workshops….and share with all the stakeholders to streamline the process for gainful professional exchange and follow-up.

  • It is one more very good effort from Sri Suresh Kumar, it has action points to be followed to improve conduct of events like seminars. Usually retired and influential people (not necessarily academically or scientifically sound) by position are invited to inaugural ceremonies who often talk everything so much & give so many useless suggestions that the opening ceremonies are often extended by more than 2 hrs. Such people are invited by the organizers keeping in mind the personal benefit to them in their carrier growth (may be experts in interviews). Recently, a few foreign delegates raised the issue that in seminars being organized in agricultural research institutes (referring to incident in one of the institutes) & universities inaugural session takes away a lot of time due to long speeches by the line of retired or serving high officials sitting on the dais-who need to be put in good humor to seek personal favors from them!! On the contrary, the inaugural sessions in any developed country is completed within an hour or within time specified. Here we have less value for time