Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (MS Swaminathan), the father of the Indian' Green Revolution', died at 98 in Chennai on September 28 2023.
Life History of MS Swaminathan
He was an accomplished agronomist, agricultural scientist, plant geneticist, administrator, and humanitarian born on August 7, 1925, in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district.
- His pioneering work in developing high-yielding varieties of paddy played a significant role in boosting India's agricultural production and improving the livelihoods of low-income farmers.
- Swaminathan began his research career in 1949, studying the genetics of potato, wheat, rice, and jute.
- During India's food crisis in the 1960s and 70s, he worked alongside other scientists, such as Norman Borlaug, to develop high-yield variety seeds of wheat, leading to the "Green Revolution" initiative that revolutionized agricultural productivity.
- Recognized as the "Father of Economic Ecology" by the United Nations Environment Programme, Swaminathan worked with agriculture ministers like C Subramaniam and Jagjivan Ram to promote the adoption of chemical-biological technology and the exponential rise in productivity of wheat and rice.
- In 1987, the director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines received the first World Food Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in agriculture. This was due to his excellent leadership skills and contributions to the institute.
- He also set up the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai.
- Swaminathan has also received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1971, the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, Padma Shri (1967), Padma Bhushan (1972) and Padma Vibhushan (1989).
- He held various administrative positions in agricultural research laboratories, including director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and principal secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Swaminathan was elected president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1988.
- Swaminathan's global influence extended beyond India and contributed to numerous international agricultural and environmental initiatives. Time magazine named him one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century. Even in his later years, he continued to serve as a chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, demonstrating his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of farmers and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
National Commission on Farmers (NCF)
Professor M.S. Swaminathan led the National Commission on Farmers (NCF), which was established on November 18, 2004.
- The commission's priorities were based on the Common Minimum Programme, and it issued four reports in December 2004, August 2005, December 2005, and April 2006. The fifth and last report was presented on October 4, 2006.
- These reports include recommendations for achieving the objective of "faster and more inclusive growth," as outlined in the Approach to the 11th Five-Year Plan.
Facts about the Green Revolution
Norman Borlaug, an American scientist interested in agriculture, is often credited as the father of the Green Revolution.
- During the 1940s, he conducted research in Mexico and created new high-yield wheat varieties that were resistant to diseases.
- When coupled with advanced mechanized agricultural techniques, Mexico produced an excess of wheat that enabled it to become a global wheat exporter by the 1960s. Before adopting these varieties, nearly half of the country's wheat supply had to be imported.
- The achievement of the Green Revolution in Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s led to the global spread of its technologies. For example, the United States imported almost half of its wheat in the 1940s. Still, by implementing Green Revolution technologies, it achieved self-sufficiency in the 1950s and eventually became an exporter by the 1960s.
Green Revolution in India
In 1943, India experienced the Bengal Famine, the worst recorded food crisis in the world. This led to the deaths of approximately 4 million people in eastern India due to hunger.
- Despite gaining independence in 1947, the government primarily focused on expanding farming areas until 1967.
- However, the population was growing at a faster rate than food production, necessitating immediate and drastic action to increase yield.
- The Green Revolution in India, led by M.S. Swaminathan, transformed the country's agriculture with the adoption of modern methods and technology, including HYV seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides, and fertilizers.
- The US, Indian Government, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundation funded the Green Revolution.
- In India, the Green Revolution led to a three-fold increase in wheat production from 1967-68 to 2003-04, while overall cereal production only doubled..
- The "Green Revolution" pertains to the utilization of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of wheat and rice, specifically in the 1960s, to enhance food crop production, particularly in India.
- The fresh seed types, commonly known as "miracle" seeds, were created in Mexico (wheat) and the Philippines (rice). Nonetheless, the novel dwarf varieties of wheat resulted in the most substantial increase in yields per hectare.
NOTE: Green revolution is a term coined by William Gourd in 1968 to describe a process that leads to improved agricultural productivity.