From the President to the peasants, the entire country is mourning the loss of M S Swaminathan, who was India's father of Green Revolution. Being regarded as an eminent agricultural scientist and as one of the powerful people in Asia, Swaminathan has left a legacy that India is and would be securing for more decades. Swaminathan's demise has created a void in the country's scientific and agricultural ecosystem.
Swaminathan had passed away at the age of 98 on Thursday - September 28 in Chennai due to health-related ailments. His daughter Soumya Swaminathan is a renowned clinical scientist and paediatrician, who served as the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO). During the time of COVID and the lockdown, Soumya gained prominence as she advocated the governments and leaders about containing the spread of Covid and upkeeping the precautionary measures.
M S Swaminathan has been credited as the main architect of India's green revolution and he pioneered his works in plant genetics. He is hailed for developing high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice. Later, he trailblazed an evergreen revolution by advocating organic agriculture and sustainable food security. For his agricultural revolution, Swaminathan was conferred with important awards as the Indian government had honoured him by conferring Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan awards.
Swaminathan was also conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1971 for his unparalleled contributions towards agriculture and food security. Notably, Swaminathan had become the first recipient of the World Food Prize in 1987 and he went on to establish M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Taramani, Chennai. He also won the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Award in 1994.
Significantly, M S Swaminathan was also listed by Time Magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century. He was one among three Indians who were on the list and other two were Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Swaminathan was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2007.
Born in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu on August 7, 1925, Swaminathan graduated from the University of Madras and completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. At the age of 29 in 1954, he joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi as an assistant cytogeneticist. He also worked with American agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug towards bringing high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice in the 1960s when India was on the verge of mass famine and was dependent on foreign aid.
Swaminathan's high-yielding varieties of wheat raised the total crop yield from 12 million tons to 23 million tons in a matter of four seasons which brought an end to India's grain imports. His contributions and vision towards agriculture had greatly helped India to achieve self-suffiency, transforming the food-dearth country to a bread basket. Swaminathan's agricultural engineering steadily helped India in addressing a massive crisis and his agricultural policies and priniciples gave him a name as father of India's Green Revolution.
He also took up the roles in leading agricultural science research in India. Swaminathan served as Principal Secretary of the Agricultural Ministry from 1979 to 1990 and he served as a member of the Planning Commission from 1980 to 1982. He also served as an independent Chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Council, and as the Chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, and as the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Swaminathan had married Mina Swaminathan, an educationalist and she passed away in 2022. The couple had three daughters including Soumya Swaminathan, who was a former Chief Scientist of the WHO. He had been battling health-related ailments and on Tuesday, he breathed his last at the age of 98 in Chennai. After learning about his demise, several national leaders have been mounring his loss and expressing their condolences to the bereaving family.
President Droupadi Murmu took to social media and wrote, "The demise of Dr M S Swaminathan, internationally renowned agricultural scientist, saddens me no end. A visionary who worked endlessly to achieve food security, he was rightly called the Father of Green Revolution that ensured our country’s self-reliance in food grains. He pioneered path-breaking research in the agriculture science for which he got a range of awards- from Padma Vibhushan to the prestigious World Food Prize. He leaves behind a rich legacy of Indian agriculture science which may serve as a guiding light to steer the world towards a safer and hunger-free future for humanity."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, "Deeply saddened by the demise of Dr. MS Swaminathan Ji. At a very critical period in our nation’s history, his groundbreaking work in agriculture transformed the lives of millions and ensured food security for our nation. Beyond his revolutionary contributions to agriculture, Dr. Swaminathan was a powerhouse of innovation and a nurturing mentor to many. His unwavering commitment to research and mentorship has left an indelible mark on countless scientists and innovators."
"I will always cherish my conversations with Dr. Swaminathan. His passion to see India progress was exemplary. His life and work will inspire generations to come. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti", Modi added. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin took to social media and wrote, "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of eminent agro scientist Thiru M.S. Swaminathan. His pioneering work in the field of sustainable food security has had a profound impact worldwide. I will always cherish the moments I spent with him. My thoughts are with his family and the global science community during this difficult time."
The demise of Dr M S Swaminathan, internationally renowned agricultural scientist, saddens me no end. A visionary who worked endlessly to achieve food security, he was rightly called the Father of Green Revolution that ensured our country’s self-reliance in food grains. He…— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) September 28, 2023
Beyond his revolutionary contributions to agriculture, Dr. Swaminathan was a powerhouse of innovation and a nurturing mentor to many. His unwavering commitment to research and mentorship has left an indelible mark on countless scientists and innovators.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 28, 2023
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of eminent agro scientist Thiru M.S. Swaminathan. His pioneering work in the field of sustainable food security has had a profound impact worldwide. I will always cherish the moments I spent with him. My thoughts are with his family and the…— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) September 28, 2023