Dr Sardara Singh Johl, a noted Agricultural Economist of the country, was born on 2nd August, 1928, in a farming family in District Lyalpur of Punjab (Now in Pakistan). After schooling in his village and small towns, he earned his B.Sc. (Ag), M.Sc. (Ag. Econ), M.A. (Econ). Ph.D. (Econ) from Punjab University. His work in agriculture and rural development started in 1952 in hill areas with emphasis on introduction of improved production technology and watershed management through construction of sixteen water tanks for life saving irrigation. After working with farmers and rural populations for more than eight years in various capacities, he joined the Punjab Agricultural University as Assistant Professor and became Professor and Head of the department of economics and sociology in 1965. Here he developed farm accounts books and motivated the farmers to adopt farming as a business enterprise. His books, (1) Farm Financial Management, (2) Marketing of Food grains, (3) Fundamentals of Farm Business Management and (4) Application of Linear Programming Techniques to Farm Business were outstanding contributions for teaching, research and extension work amongst farmers. He has published 7 professional books and more than 200 research papers and articles in journals of repute and one widely acclaimed book in Punjabi, which has been translated into Hindi and published by Punjabi University and into Urdu by languages department of Punjab Government.
His outstanding commissioned reports (1) Rationalization of Electricity Tariff in Punjab, (2) Diversification of Agriculture in Punjab, (3) Structural Adjustments in Cropping Patterns for Growth and Productivity in Punjab, (4) Structural Reforms in Agriculture Sector for Productivity and Growth in India, (5) Resource Generation, Consultancy, Contract Research, Incentives and Reward System (Adopted by ICAR and State Agricultural Universities) are important policy contributions at state and national level. His world bank consultancy report for Russia after disintegration of USSR, Earlier critical analysis of five year plans of USSR, Rationalization of policies for agricultural development in China, Assessment of Chinese Agriculture for GOI, Marketing of Agricultural produce in Ethiopia, Framework of Sustainable development of Agriculture Sector in Iran, Agriculture Development Planning in Iran, Analysis of Development Plans in Middle East Countries, Agricultural Policy Analysis for Somalia, Irrigation and Agriculture Development in Middle East are some of his notable contributions to the agricultural policy at the international level.
Inter alia, he served as (1) Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University Patiala, (2) Vice Chancellor PAU (for short period), (3) Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, GOI, (4) Member Economic Advisory Council of Four Prime Ministers of India, (5) Director Central Governing Board of Reserve Bank of India, (6) Member Board of Financial Supervision RBI and member Boards of Management/ Syndicates of Guru Nanak Dev University, Baba Farid University of Health Services and H. P. Agricultural University, Chairman, Research Council of National Center for Agricultural Research and Policy, Member Research Council of IHBT of CSIR.
In recognition of his professional contributions and concerns and efforts for social and cultural uplift of the society (1) Punjabi University Patiala conferred the degree of Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) on him, (2) ICAR conferred the award of Professor of Eminence in Economics, (3) National Academy of Agricultural Sciences awarded Fellowship of the Academy, (4) Punjab Academy of Sciences honored him with Fellowship, (5) Punjabi Sahit Akademi with Life Fellowship, (6) Chief Khalsa Diwan with Centenary Award, (7) College of Agriculture PAU with Golden Jubilee Outstanding Alumni Award, (8) Professor Mohan Singh Foundation with 'Mahan Punjbi' Award and (9) M.S.M with Dr. Madan Gold Medal Award.
He was unanimously elected (1) President of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics in 1983, (2) President of Indian Society of Agricultural Marketing in 1988, (3) President Indian Agricultural Economics Research Association 1987 to 1994 and President Punjabi Sahit Akademi for Six years. He chaired three sessions of International Agricultural Economics Association in Minsk (USSR) in 1970.
In the field of social service he is (1) Patron for Life, Guru Gobind Singh Charitable Trust which annually spends Rs 10 to12 lakh on poor patients and holds Five medical and eye camps, (2) Past President, Paul Harris Fellow and patron to the Rotary Ludhiana North, (3) President of Rotary Senior Citizens Home Trust, (4)Patron of Peoples Action Front, which sensitizes the people against economic, social and political corruption and malpractices and their responsibilities toward emoncracy. Dr. Johl is a man larger than life. He is an organic scholar, whose interests go beyond economics and policy advisement. He has made outstanding contribution to the Punjabi literature and has contributed for more than two and half years middler column titled, 'Mera Bharat Mahan' dedicated to constructive criticism of social, cultural and political incongruencies in the national system. He has made his dream of value based education come true through managing a state of the art Amardeep Memorial College in the thick of the rural area of Punjab, financially supported by the NRIs and local donors. More than 14 crore investment and no government support! He is Chief Patron of NRI supported Muti-specialties Hospital being constructed, again in the thick of poor rural area, with 12 crore investment in infrastructure and 5 crore corpus fund for running expenses support. If replicated, these efforts would completely revolutionize the education and health services in rural areas of the country.
Recognizing his contributions to the agricultural policy in the state, he has been appointed Chairman of the Chief Ministers' Advisory committee on Agricultural Policy and Vice Chairman of Punjab State Planning Board with the status of a Cabinet minister in Punjab.