Renowned agricultural scientist and the “Father of India’s Green Revolution”, MS Swaminathan, died this morning in Chennai at the age of 98. Dr Swaminathan’s groundbreaking contributions to agriculture revolutionised food security in India and earned him global recognition.
Survived by his three daughters, Soumya Swaminathan, Madhura Swaminathan, and Nitya Swaminathan, his legacy is marked by a lifelong dedication to sustainable agriculture.
Dr Swaminathan’s journey as a plant geneticist paved the way for the Green Revolution, a transformational era in Indian agriculture. His advocacy for sustainable farming practices made him a world leader in the field of sustainable food security.
Between 1972 and 1979, Dr Swaminathan served as the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agricultural Research and Education.
His remarkable contributions earned him several prestigious awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971 and the inaugural World Food Prize in 1987. He was also honored with the Padma Shri in 1967, Padma Bhushan in 1972, and Padma Vibhushan in 1989.
Notably, as the Chair of the National Commission on Farmers, Dr Swaminathan played a crucial role in addressing farmer distress.
The commission’s recommendations including setting a minimum selling price at least 50 per cent higher than the weighted average cost of products and was aimed at alleviating challenges faced by farmers.
Furthermore, Dr Swaminathan held the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, where his work continued to influence sustainable agricultural practices.
He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha as MP between 2007 and 2013.
Dr Swaminathan’s impact transcended borders, with Time magazine recognizing him as one of the most influential Asians of the 20th century. In 2013, NDTV honored him with the Greatest Global Living Legend Award.
He said then, “The future belons to nations with grains, not guns. Reaching a (level) of food security and enabling legal right to food for Indians has not been easy.”