Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Reminiscing: Dr Sharan Angadi

After superannuating from active service in 2016, Karaoke singing has become my passion – I have more than 9500 recordings to my credit . With 42 years of research experience with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a senior scientist. Now, it is a payback period for me to return the favours I have received during my active career. 

I am Dr Sharan Angadi an Agricultural scientist with a Doctorate degree  in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the renowned Indian Agricultural Research Institute – IARI  New Delhi. Have 42 years of research experience with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a senior scientist  and as global research head of a renowned MultiNational Seed Company of Netherlands. Currently I am R & D adviser to seed companies in India and Germany

I live in Bangalore. Music for me  is a way to express myself. I never feel lonely in the company of music. I feel happy and content when I listen to music and I enjoy singing. 

Though I have been learning Hindustani vocals from a renowned musician since 2006 my practice sessions  have been erratic because of my work related to frequent global travels. 

An ardent fan of Mukesh since my student days I have won prizes in singing contests. Taking up the hobby of  Karaoke singing in 2011 I have been practicing several songs of Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey and Hemanth Kumar as well. After superannuating from active service in 2016 Karaoke singing has become my passion and as an active VIP member of the popular singing app smule I have more than 9500 recordings to my credit   

Humor and popular science writing are my other favorite hobbies. Have delivered several humor talks to huge public gatherings and have authored more than hundred popular science articles published in leading dailies and weekly magazines. Learning about the Seniors Have Talent  singing contest from a friend I took part in the season 3 group D to feel connected with other talented senior singers and won the Popular Choice Award

I would like to reminisce on my professional life                                                 

Reminiscences of a rolling stone

Born in a farming family of a  tiny hamlet of northern Karnataka in the early fifties , growing up in small towns, studying in government schools I could have hardly dreamt of making it big in the field of sciences but feel fortunate to have risen high in my profession and career 

Graduating in agricultural sciences from agricultural college Dharwad after studying several courses covering various aspects of agriculture, in 1974 I felt like a Jack of all. To be master of one I chose Plant Breeding and Genetics at TNAU Coimbatore. After M.Sc.(Agri.)in 1976 entry  in to the 1978 National Agricultural Research Service was a momentous occasion for me

Rolling  in  to the  research service

Initial days at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research (DOR) Hyderabad were uneventful. The dreary job of research coordination and writing reports stifled my enthusiasm. The three months` training at the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management came as a welcome whiff of fresh air. It was my first exposure to the concepts of management and provided valuable insights into the processes and procedures of research administration. I was happy by the new learnings and contemplated implementing it  in my job. Soon I was dismayed to see none of the principles taught being practiced at the workplace. Dislike for my job grew with each passing day.   In an attempt to escape from the dull and dull daily routines  I sought the refuge of PhD programs. I was a true rolling stone. Gathering moss wasn’t my intention. Rolling paused with my entry into the PhD program at IARI in 1984. I was back in the sprightly student life. Days at IARI were transformative. I rejoiced being among the creamy layer of fellow students from India and abroad and basked in the aura of IARI. 

Going global

I bid adieu to my 15 years` long career with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research  in 1993 to take a plunge into the private sector. After an initial dip it was up all the way. I joined an Indo- Belgian Vegetable Breeding Research, Joint Venture  that changed hands of  two Life Science global giants before landing into the lap of Bayer Crop Science as a part of Nunhems, a Dutch MNC. To improve  my management skills I enrolled for MBA Distance Education. The courses on Operations Research, Managing HR, and  Change Management gave me a practical outlook and boosted my confidence. On the job  Nunhems training in Management Development  Program and Pathways to Leadership in the Netherlands provided me with a practical perspective of managing men and resources. I felt well equipped to be a good  team leader and could effectively manage global breeding teams in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Israel, USA, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and China. Interactions with the scientists in the diverse global cultures was exciting and  challenging. 

With lots of Freedom To Operate  and support from national and global colleagues  I could build  and manage an effective and efficient team of scientists who delivered successfully. That made me a successful team leader and brought glory and stupendous prosperity to the company 


Reminiscing brings back mixed memories. Speaking about my private sector experiences at the  public sector institute where I worked earlier I had said “ to be successful  makes the jobs insecure”. People were upset. They were angrier when I added  “ I learnt here how not to  work.” Now I feel those were  spur of the moment comments triggered by a few frustrating experiences. I  remember with gratitude  the institutions where I studied and worked at . I owe my success to the education I got from some of the excellent teachers and training with some exemplary scientists.

In my private sector career too I have benefitted a great deal from the professionals in the universities and research institutes. My efforts to collaborate with the successful  public sector crop improvement programs met with limited success because of lack of enthusiasm, suspicions of the scientists  and  `what is in it for me?` attitudes. I became a strong proponent of public private partnership initiatives but the bureaucracy and numerous procedural delays proved to be stronger opponents. 

Based on my experiences that were good, not too good and bad and my efforts to succeed despite all the odds I would like to share the few following thoughts:

Public institutions have several brilliant, dedicated scientists engaged in extraordinary research.   Technologies  to enhance the efficiency of crop improvement procedures and unique  hybrids developed in these organizations  can reach the end users through effective public – private partnerships.

Freedom and facilities  of these institutes can be  put to better use by directing them towards practical, result oriented research. 

We cannot afford the luxury of research for the sake of research any more. Innumerable checks and balances  in the public institutions  often work as stumbling blocks and deter the progress. Plethora of procedures can breed procrastination which is a thief of time. The delays can be frustrating and kill enthusiasm and initiative. 

Transparency, honesty and sincerity of purpose by both the partners  are the major success factors for effective public – private collaborations.

Private sector has emerged as a major employer over the past few decades. There are plenty of opportunities for well-trained and talented agri- professionals. Students have to be trained to think practically. Jobs in the private sector are tough and stressful. Non-performers are shown the door mercilessly. Sincere  workers  are sought after and are suitably rewarded. 

In my checkered growth of over 25 years in the industry I have faced several harsh realities and have learnt valuable lessons. I am regarded as a successful entrepreneur and a diligent technocrat. Success always comes at a price. It brings admirers and detractors in equal measures. I was fortunate to have more of the former and less of the latter

Success mantras

Honest efforts, caring not only for people in my (R&D) team but also in production and marketing teams who looked up to me for help and support, always being there for the people, listening to their problems and helping to solve them, encouraging and motivating them, regularly coaching and counseling them,  never ever saying `this is not my job`, being open to constructive criticism and accepting suggestions for improvement and above all integrity have been my success mantras

Looking back provides me with a perspective on what I could have done better. Now with lots of leisure and freedom to work at my own pace without the pressure of deadlines I am trying to contribute to my field of specialization by training youngsters and spreading the knowledge and sharing my experiences with the industry people. 

This I feel is a payback period for me to return the favours I have received during my active career. I feel proud to have chosen crop improvement specialization and to have contributed my might to the cause of farming


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