Sawan Mal Sikka did his PhD (1939) from University of London, UK. He joined as Assistant Cotton Botanist at Government Agricultural College and Research Institute, Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) (1940) and was promoted as Cerealist (1947). After independence, he was appointed (1947) as Economic Botanist for Cereals, Cotton and Oilseeds in the Department of Agriculture in the erstwhile East Punjab, India at Jalandhar and held this post upto 1952. Thereafter he joined as Deputy Adviser in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (1952). He took over as Head of the Division of Botany, IARI, New Delhi (1954) and held this position until 1959. Dr Sikka took over as Additional Commissioner, ICAR, New Delhi in 1959 and was promoted to the position of Agricultural Commissioner (ICAR) in 1965. With reorganization of the ICAR, he continued to work as Agricultural Commissioner (Development) until his death in 1968.
Academic and Research Achievements: Sikka did much work on cytogenetics and plant breeding. His researches in cytogenetics, interspecific hybridization and induction of mutations in cotton, induction of polyploidy in forage crops and genetics of various traits in wheat and cotton received recognition. He helped to develop a series of NP700 and NP800 rust-resistant high-yielding varieties of wheat. He also co-authored many monographs on cotton. .
Other Contributions: Dr Sikka served on some ICAR committees and also on Editorial boards of Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences (1959-66) and Indian Farming (1960-66). Dr Sikka was the first man who intensified the regional research on cotton, oilseeds and millets in the ICAR system by establishing centers throughout Indian under PIRRCOM, of which he was later on overall incharge in the ICAR set-up when he joined as Joint Commissioner in Krishi Bhavan. Dr Sikka established facilities for research on crop improvement in the Punjab under very odd conditions and was a pioneer in strengthening research in cereals, pulses, oilseeds and cotton in Punjab. The credit for research and development of American cotton in Punjab after partition goes to Dr Sikka.