By Vungzamuan Valte, Columnist

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Dr. Sam Higginbottom came to India in 1903, joined the North Indian Mission of Presbyterian Church and taught economics and science at the Allahabad Christian College, but he soon realized that the class room teachings and theory imparted to the local students hardly have any relevance on the socio economic lives of the rural people in India.  In 1909 he left his teaching profession and established an agricultural school in Allahabad with the motto “Feed the Hungry and Serve the Land, with Christian Vision of human kind and the Creator. Soon he introduced improved agricultural techniques, trained young men to work in villages, and acquainted them with the practices of the Indian economy. By 1919 Dairy, Animal Husbandry, Agriculture etc. farms were developed and soon after, Diploma courses in Farm machinery, and dairying were introduced. By 1942-43 degree courses in Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering  was imparted, thus setting the stage for a pioneering institute to offer degree courses in Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering in the whole of Asia and the fourth in the world. In 1950 the Institute was recognized (registered) as a Christian Education Institute of National Stature. In the year 2000 the Allahabad Agriculture Institute was recognized as a deemed university by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India.

This Institute was rechristened as the Dr. Sam Higginbotom  Institute of Agriculture Technology and Sciences (SHIATS), in the year 2009-2010 and is accredited by AICTE, NAAC (UGC), ICAR, and the Indian Forest Research Education.

The Institute offers diverse courses in Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Horticulture, Genetics and plant breeding, Soil Sciences, Forestry and Environment, Home Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Food and Dairy Technology, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Business Studies, Theology, Animal Husbandry, Humanities and Social Sciences, Film and Mass Communication, Health Science etc. from diploma to post graduate and research courses.

Faculty of Health Sciences

It was a lazy afternoon on Valentines` Day, 2015 that I had happened to wander within the experimental farms of the Institute and moved on to the premises of the most important Christian Institution which is recognized as a Minority Educational Institution by the government of Uttar Pradesh under clause (1) of Article 30 of the Constitution of India. As my inquisitiveness paid off, I happened to bump into the path of Professor Rajendra B Lal, the Vice Chancellor of the Institution. A homely discussion quickly took me into the history of this Christian institution, and was quickly joined by Bishop D.K. Sahu, the Dean of the Faculty of Theology. What ensued was the discovery of a unique and wonderful blend of theology and Secular teachings being imparted here. It is indeed surprising to note that, this institute was permitted to impart and offer Theology as an Academic Discipline by the Government of India, Ministry of Human Resources Development in the year 2005.

Now, the institute offers Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Theology and Ph. D Theology on Religious lines (Ministry). Side by side, it offers courses such as B.A. Honours Theology and History, M.A in Theology and Ph. D in Theology which is as good as any other degree in any other universities. The sum total is that, Theology student who qualified in the aforementioned three degrees can apply for any government job, as well as work in the ministry. One such good example is the case of Dr. Valson Thampi, the Principal of St. Stephens College in Delhi, who was sought to be removed by rivals on the ground that his Ph. D degree in theology (not secular) was not recognized by the University Grants Commission, and thus was not qualified to head the college. He has had to fight long court battles, which was ultimately decided in his favour. Thus, a stamp of legal recognition and approval was got confirmed on the legality of the Theological degrees offered by SHIATS for secular purposes. Being a minority educational institution (Christian), 80% of seats were reserved for Christians with scholarships for deserving students. You can reach them at, I do not honestly vouch for the academic excellence of the institute, as my knowledge is limited to this, one day experience.

Surprisingly, a good number of faculty members from the North East were found working in this institute, and to my utter surprise, a large numbers of degree students, post graduate degree and research scholars numbering not less the 750 (from NE). However, most of the students comprises of Nagas from Manipur and Nagaland, students from Meghalaya, and very few numbers from Churachandpur district and Mizoram. In fact, I came across only one post graduate student from Lamka, who is none other than Kennedy Vaiphei the son of pu Manga Vaiphei. In fact only 9 scholars from Mizoram were to be found, to be precise. It was heartening to note that two post graduate scholars pursuing M.Div. courses from the Chin Hills of Myanmar were residing in this campus. Luckily, I have had the chance to have a short interaction (exhortation) with the North East students in their worship (fellowship) service on the very next day. Oh! What a gainful wanderings of a wanderer, in the Hindu Heartland, on the banks of the Jamuna River, on a Valentines` day of 2015.