Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, also known as MS Swaminathan, legendary agricultural scientist and Father of India’s ‘Green Revolution,’ died at the age of 98 in Chennai on Thursday.
Born on August 7, 1925, in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, he was an agronomist, agricultural scientist, plant geneticist, administrator, and humanitarian who played a crucial role in developing high-yielding varieties of paddy that helped ensure India’s low-income farmers produce more yield.
Researching the genetics of potatoes, wheat, rice, and jute, Swaminathan started his career in 1949. When India was on the verge of a mass famine leading to scarcity of food grains, Swaminathan along with Norman Borlaug and other scientists developed the high-yield variety seeds of wheat.
MS Swaminathan’s achievements
He is known as the “Father of Economic Ecology” by the United Nations Environment Programme, worked with agriculture ministers including C Subramaniam and Jagjivan Ram during the 1960s and 70s for the success of the ‘Green Revolution,’ an initiative that paved the way for the exponential rise in productivity of wheat and rice through adaptation of chemical-biological technology.
He was awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987 for developing and spearheading the introduction of high-yielding wheat and rice varieties into India, following which he set up the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. Swaminathan was also awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1971 and the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986.
He had also been conferred with the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and the Padma Vibhushan. He is also the recipient of the H K Firodia Award, the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award, and the Indira Gandhi Prize.
The Indian agriculturalist had also held administrative positions in various agricultural research laboratories. He served as the director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and later the International Rice Research Institute. He also served as the principal secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1979.
In 1988, Swaminathan became the president of the International Union of the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In 2004, he was appointed as chair of the National Commission on Farmers.
Beyond his work in the country, Swaminathan was a spectacular figure globally, contributing to various international agricultural and environmental initiatives. He was named one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century by Time magazine.
He is survived by his three daughters Soumya, Madhura, and Nitya. His wife Mina predeceased him in 2022.
For more latest news, click here.