MS Swaminathan, the father of India’s ‘Green Revolution,’ has died at the age of 98.
Swaminathan was essential in the development of high-yielding paddy varieties, which helped ensure that India’s low-income farmers produced higher output.
Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (MS Swaminathan), the father of India’s ‘Green Revolution,’ died on Thursday at the age of 98 in Chennai.
He was an agronomist, agricultural scientist, plant geneticist, administrator, and humanitarian who helped develop high-yielding paddy varieties that helped India’s low-income farmers produce greater output. He was born on August 7, 1925 in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district.
Swaminathan began his work in 1949, researching potato, wheat, rice, and jute genetics. Swaminathan, along with Norman Borlaug and other scientists, produced the high yield variety wheat seeds when India was on the edge of a mass famine, resulting in a scarcity of food grains.
Swaminathan, dubbed the “Father of Economic Ecology” by the United Nations Environment Programme, collaborated with agriculture ministers such as C Subramaniam and Jagjivan Ram during the 1960s and 1970s to ensure the success of the ‘Green Revolution,’ an initiative that paved the way for an exponential increase in wheat and rice productivity through the adaptation of chemical-biological technology.
He received the inaugural World Food Prize in 1987 for creating and championing the introduction of high-yielding wheat and rice varieties into India, after which he established the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. Swaminathan received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1971, as well as the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986.
He was also awarded the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan. In addition, he has received the H K Firodia Award, the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award, and the Indira Gandhi Prize.
The Indian farmer had also held managerial posts in a number of agricultural research facilities. He was the director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which eventually became the International Rice Research Institute. In 1979, he was also the principal secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Swaminathan was elected president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1988. He was appointed chair of the National Commission on Farmers in 2004.
Swaminathan was a spectacular figure globally, contributing to a variety of international agricultural and environmental efforts. Time magazine called him one of the 20 most influential Asians of the twentieth century.
His three daughters, Soumya, Madhura, and Nitya, survive him. Mina, his wife, died in 2022.