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After obtaining his B.Sc. in Agriculture at Lyallpur, he completed his Ph.D. in Adelaide (Waite Institute) in 1954. His further post-doctoral research was supported by the National Research Council of Canada. He served in various capacities as a professor, researcher, and an administrator at the Punjab Agricultural University from 1947 to 1986. Dr. Atwal was the Dean of Agriculture and Dean Post-Graduate Studies there for 18 years. He was invited by the Jammu & Kashmir Government as Agriculture Adviser and Vice-Chancellor (Designate) of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Srinagar between 1974-76. He successfully introduced the European honey bee into India and is considered the father of commercial beekeeping in the country. Dr. Atwal was also the founder-President of the Indian Ecological Society that was established in 1974 and a passionate ecologist, who worked to help conserve local wildlife. He retired in 1989 as a full-time member of the Punjab Planning Board but continued writing books for the education of students and farmers.