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Father of India’s Green Revolution MS Swaminathan Dies
Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, a celebrated agricultural scientist and the driving force behind India’s “Green Revolution,” has peacefully passed away at the age of 98 due to age-related ailments. MS Swaminathan was a luminary in the field of agriculture whose groundbreaking work in the late 1960s and 1970s transformed India’s agricultural landscape. His contributions not only made India self-sufficient in food production but also significantly reduced hunger.
MS Swaminathan Early Life and Education
M.S. Swaminathan was born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, India. His academic journey took him to some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. He obtained his doctorate in genetics from the renowned Cambridge University in 1952. Despite lucrative opportunities abroad, he chose to return to post-independence India with a resolute determination to serve his nation.
Read about: Green Revolution in India
MS Swaminathan’s Role in Agriculture
M.S. Swaminathan’s influence in agriculture extended far and wide, encompassing diverse roles and responsibilities both in India and on the international stage. His notable positions included:
Independent Chairman of the Food and Agricultural Organization Council (1981–85): Swaminathan played a vital role in guiding global agricultural policies and strategies during his tenure as the Independent Chairman of the FAO Council.
President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984–90): His leadership in this capacity contributed to global efforts in preserving biodiversity and natural resources.
President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (India) (1989–96): Swaminathan’s leadership at WWF-India highlighted his commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development.
Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR): As the Director General of ICAR, Swaminathan spearheaded critical agricultural research initiatives in India, shaping the nation’s agricultural landscape.
Green Revolution: A Transformative Era
At the heart of M.S. Swaminathan’s mission was the transformation of Indian agriculture. His visionary approach included:
Introduction of High-Yielding Crop Varieties: Swaminathan was instrumental in introducing high-yielding varieties of crops, particularly rice and wheat. These varieties exhibited greater resistance to pests and diseases, resulting in enhanced productivity.
Improved Irrigation Facilities: Recognizing the importance of water resources, he advocated for and facilitated improvements in irrigation methods, ensuring that crops received adequate water.
Promotion of Fertilizer Use: Swaminathan’s advocacy for the judicious use of fertilizers contributed to improved soil fertility and increased crop yields.
Impact of the Green Revolution
The Green Revolution, spearheaded by Swaminathan, brought about a profound transformation:
Surge in Wheat Production: Wheat production in India witnessed a remarkable surge, soaring from 6 million tonnes in 1947 to a staggering 17 million tonnes between 1964 and 1968.
Enhanced Food Security: The Green Revolution bolstered India’s food security, significantly reducing the nation’s dependence on food imports and alleviating hunger.
Swaminathan’s Pioneering Contributions
M.S. Swaminathan’s pioneering contributions to the Green Revolution were notable:
Development of Semi-Dwarf Wheat Varieties: Swaminathan led the development of semi-dwarf wheat varieties, which reduced lodging (the bending of stems under the weight of grain) and increased crop yields.
Collaboration with Norman Borlaug: His collaboration with Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug resulted in the incorporation of dwarfing genes into wheat varieties, ushering in what came to be known as the “Wheat Revolution.”
Addressing Challenges: Swaminathan was not only a visionary but also a realist. He recognized the challenges posed by the Green Revolution, including the displacement of local crop varieties, soil fertility conservation issues, and the indiscriminate use of pesticides. He also voiced concerns about the overexploitation of groundwater resources.
Championing Farmers’ Rights
During his tenure as the head of the National Commission on Farmers from 2004 to 2006, M.S. Swaminathan emerged as a staunch advocate for the well-being of farmers. His advocacy encompassed a series of critical recommendations aimed at safeguarding the interests of India’s farming community.
Fair Compensation Through MSP
One of Swaminathan’s foremost recommendations was to establish a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce that would guarantee farmers fair and just compensation for their labour and investment. His proposal emphasized that the MSP should be set at a minimum of 50% above the actual cost of production. This initiative aimed to provide economic security to farmers by ensuring that they received adequate remuneration for their agricultural efforts.
Swaminathan’s tireless advocacy for this fair pricing mechanism resonated with farmers across the nation. His commitment to addressing the economic challenges faced by the agricultural sector showcased his dedication to improving the livelihoods of farmers, who form the backbone of India’s agrarian economy.
Swaminathan’s work as the head of the National Commission on Farmers underscored his unwavering commitment to promoting policies that would empower farmers and alleviate their financial hardships. His recommendations continue to have a lasting impact on India’s agricultural landscape, advocating for a more equitable and prosperous future for those who toil tirelessly to feed the nation.
MS Swaminathan Awards and Recognition
|Category||Awards and Honors|
|International Recognition||– Mendel Memorial Medal (1965)|
|– Ramon Magsaysay Award (1971)|
|– Albert Einstein World Science Award (1986)|
|– World Food Prize (1987)|
|– Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1991)|
|– Four Freedoms Award (2000)|
|– Planet and Humanity Medal of the International Geographical Union (2000)|
|– Order of the Golden Heart of the Philippines|
|– Order of Agricultural Merit of France|
|– Order of the Golden Ark of the Netherlands|
|– Royal Order of Sahametrei of Cambodia|
|National Recognition||– Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1961)|
|– Padma Shri (India’s fourth-highest civilian honor)|
|– Padma Bhushan (India’s third-highest civilian honor)|
|– Padma Vibhushan (India’s second-highest civilian honor)|
|– H. K. Firodia Award|
|– Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award|
|– Indira Gandhi Prize|
|Additional Honors||– 24 international and 28 national honours (by 2002)|
|– 33 domestic and 32 foreign awards (2016 issue of Biotech Express)|
|Legacy||– “Award for Leadership in Agriculture” established in his honour in 2004|
|– Recognition at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)|
MS Swaminathan Death
Renowned Indian agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, known as the “Father of India’s Green Revolution,” has passed away at 98 in his Chennai residence on September 28, 2023. In 1987, he received the inaugural World Food Prize and subsequently established the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Taramani, Chennai.
MS Swaminathan: Legacy and Inspiration
Even after his passing, M.S. Swaminathan’s legacy continues to inspire generations of scientists, farmers, and policymakers. His dedication to improving food security and his unwavering commitment to India’s progress serve as a beacon of inspiration for those working to address contemporary agricultural challenges.
M.S. Swaminathan’s multifaceted contributions to agriculture and conservation exemplify his dedication to improving not only India’s food security but also the sustainable management of natural resources. His diverse roles in leadership, coupled with his pioneering work in crop improvement, continue to influence agricultural practices and environmental stewardship both in India and worldwide. Swaminathan’s legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for those striving to address the complex challenges of agriculture and conservation in the modern era.