Born on June 27, 1947 at village Doburji, in the erstwhile Tarn Taran tehsil of Amritsar district, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon has outstanding academic credentials. He obtained his Doctorate from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, M.Sc. from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana and B.Sc. from Khalsa College, Amritsar. He has bagged many prestigious scholarships/ fellowships that included post-doctoral fellowships namely German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship; University of Hohenheim (होहिनहाइम) fellowship to work at University of Hohenheim in Germany and Alexander von Humboldt Europe Fellowship to work at University of Birmingham, UK.
Dr. Dhillon, currently the Vice Chancellor of PAU, Ludhiana is an internationally acclaimed scientist in the field of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources. He served PAU as Director of Research, Director (Seeds) and Maize Breeder; the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as Assistant Director General, and Director, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR); and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar as Director of Research. Prior to holding the reigns of PAU as VC, he was working in University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany. Earlier, he has served International Center for Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT), Mexico as an Associate Scientist.
Academic and Research Achievements: As a maize breeder, Dr Dhillon worked in the crop improvement team, and developed 16 varieties/ hybrids that have been used commercially at national and state levels and 59 inbreds and 6 heterotic pools that have been used commercially and served as genetic resource in India and abroad. The hybrids developed included ‘Paras’, the first single cross hybrid in India (1995), and thereby, gave a new direction to maize breeding in the country. His pioneering work on the cultivation during non-traditional winter/spring season has led to the emergence of spring maize as an important crop in NW India. He developed new plant-breeding methods having higher genetic gain, mating designs to estimate degree of dominance and genotype-environment interactions, techniques and analyses to evaluate germplasm for multiple tolerance and environments for conducting selection.
As Director of Research and VC, PAU, Dr Dhillon streamlined research in integrated management of natural resources and applied inputs (water, nutrients, agro-chemicals), integrated biotechnology with crop improvement, food technology with nutrition and processing, and in crop residue management. PAU also developed/strengthened linkages with industry particularly that of seed, food processing and farm machinery and created IPR and Technology Commercialization Cell. As a result of his initiatives and leadership in research, teaching and extension education programmes, (i) PAU won Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award – 2017 based on achievements during previous 5 years, (ii) PAU has been identified as ‘Institute of Excellence’ in agriculture with research output of national and global prominence, by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted by MHRD/UGC under ‘Institute of Eminence’ project, (iii) PAU occupied the top position for research publications and citations among all State Universities as per CII-India Citation Index Report, 2017.
At ICAR-NBPGR, he developed germplasm evaluation network, started comprehensive evaluation in rice, wheat, chickpea and pigeonpea and created database on introduced and indigenous collections. He prepared and implemented strategies for targetted collection/ introduction of indigenous/exotic germplasm. He was responsible for development of National Containment Facility. He started PhD programme in Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) at NBPGR. At PAU and NBPGR he guided several MSc and PhD students.
Other Contributions: Professor Dhillon has served/serving as a member of many high level committees, the most important ones are: Member Governing Body of ICAR (2012 - 2015); Member, Executive Council of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) (2007); Member, Executive Council of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) (2003 – 2005, 2012 - 2014); Member, Executive Committee of Borlaugh Institutive for South Asia since 2012; Member, Peer Review Committee of ICAR (2016); Member, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, Govt. of India (2005-2007) and Member, Punjab State Planning Board since 2011; Member, Punjab State Farmers & Farm Workers Commission since 2011. He also participated in the negotiations on FAO-International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (2001-2002).
Awards and Honours: For his outstanding contributions, Dr Dhillon has been bestowed with several awards such as: Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize by ICAR; Dr BP Pal Memorial Award (the apex award) and Recognition Award by NAAS; Om Parkash Bhasin Award for Science and Technology; Asian Maize Champion Award by CIMMYT; Dr NL Dhawan Lifetime Achievement Award by Maize Technologists Association of India; Lifetime Achievement Award by Punjab Academy of Sciences, Sardar Bishan Singh Samundri Memorial Lectureship Award by Guru Nanak Dev University; Dr. Joginder Singh Memorial Award by Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding; Dr. HB Singh Award by Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi; Appreciation Certificate by Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, and Gold Medal by ICAR-IARI.
He is Fellow of several academies, the important ones being Indian National Science Academy (FNA), National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (FNAAS); National Academy of Sciences, India (FNASc) and Punjab Academy of Sciences (FPAS); and JC Bose National Fellow of DST. He served as President of Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding, New Delhi; Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi; Maize Technologists Association of India, New Delhi, and Crop Improvement Society of India, Ludhiana.
Dr Dhillon has been conferred with prestigious Padma Shri Award - 2019 by the President of India.