LAHORE - Vice-Chancellor Punjab University Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran has stated that by reducing the budget for higher education, we are not only eroding our educational base but also inviting our own doom because without the spread of education and literacy no meaningful progress can be even thought. Addressing a symposium on Current Agro Biotechnology organised by PU Microbiology Department in collaboration with Monsanto, Pakistan at a local hotel here on Monday, Dr Kamran said the government must give top most priority to educational promotion because knowledge of modern sciences and technology is only way for Pakistan to prosper and live an honourable life as an independent country. He said in the next years fiscal budget, salaries have been increased by 50 per cent while the Higher Education Commissions budget has been reduced from the previous Rs22.50b to Rs 17 billion. By cutting down resources for educational promotion, we are dragging the country deeper and deeper in the abyss of darkness and illiteracy. The government must increase the recurring budget of HEC to enable universities pay enhanced amount of salaries to their employees, he added. He said the Holy Quran invites us in 750 verses to observe and study nature and universal phenomena because that constitutes the real source of knowledge creation. He said the Punjab University had produced 106 and 125 PhDs during the years 2008 and 2009 respectively as against an annual average of 43 PhD faculty members produced during the last 17 years. He said if we dont enhance the resources for the vital sector of education, Pakistan will remain where it has been for the past 63 years. The VC said in view of the rapidly multiplying population of the country, there is desperate need to make available the most modern production technology at the doorsteps of farming community for boosting up production of cash and food crops to achieve food self sufficiency and export surplus production. He also paid glowing tributes to the Dean Faculty of Life Sciences Prof Dr Shahida Hasnain who is heading the most productive faculty of PU where ratio of PhD is more than 65 per cent against its total teachers strength. Earlier, Dr Shahia Hasnain, in her introductory remarks, briefly explained different landmarks in the area of crop improvement. Briefly explaining conventional breeding techniques and hybrid crop production that revolutionalised the agriculture in the 1950s and 1960s. Explaining the modern techniques, she threw light on the applications of mutational breeding and tissue culturing techniques and their outcomes in Pakistan. She also dwelt at length on the benefits and efficiency of genetically modified crops.