M. S. Swaminathan
- At a time when Indian agriculture had folded severely, M. S. Swaminathan took it in his hands to restore it to its old glory.
- Kumbakonam holds the pride of raising M.S. Swaminathan. His father was a renowned doctor and a hard-core follower of Gandhian principles. It is from his father that he learnt the valuable lesson – ‘Nothing is Impossible’. This lesson that he imbibed at a very young age is what led him to create miracles in the field of agriculture.
- In the latter half of the 1960’s. India was in the clutches of a great famine. The famine claimed a massive number of lives in North India. To add to the sorrow, India had lost the able leadership of an esteemed leader like Nehru. The people surrendered to their state and resorted to the belief that nothing short of a miracle can save them. That is when M. S. Swaminathan entered the scene with the idea that miracles don’t just happen, they have to be created. This is how the Green Revolution came into existence.
- The impact of the Green Revolution cannot be measured in words. By the end of just 4 harvests, the productivity nearly doubled. Till then the wheat productivity in India was 12 million tonnes. With the start of the Green Revolution, it became 23 million tonnes!
- The word ‘scientist’ normally brings to the mind a picture of a person holed up in a lab or analysing reports and data. He spent half of the winter season on the fields, with the farmers. He answered every question of the farmers patiently, in simple, understandable language. The way he interacts with farmers is such that within just a short period of interaction, the farmer who went to him with a doubt would become another M. S. Swaminathan!
- From 2004 to 2014, he served as the head of National Commission on Farmers. His tenure with the commission became a green period for youngsters to pursue a career in Agricultural Research. Nearly 60 students have gained their doctorates under the guidance of M. S. Swaminathan
- In the period of 2004 – 2006, M. S. Swaminathan submitted his research reports to the Government of India. The research covered various pressing issues such as the increasing farmer suicides, shortage of food, inequality of land. Apart from finding the cause of such issues, M. S. Swaminathan also gave the solutions that could be implemented to eradicate these problems. All these were backed by sufficient data and statistics. The then Prime Minister of India, Sr. Manmohan Singh, implemented these suggestions and solutions as much as he could. The National Food Security Act is one of such significant measures suggested by M. S. Swaminathan’s research.
- Such greatness did not escape the notice of other countries. His desk overflows with awards and honours from various countries and organisations. Some of the important awards include the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, 1971, World Food Prize, 1987. In fact, he was the first one to receive the World Food Prize. It was no surprise when his name was released by the Time magazine in their 1999 list of ‘20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century’. In 1989, M. S. Swaminathan was honoured with ‘Padma Vibhushan’, the second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India.
- During the period of the Green Revolution, there was one phrase he used quite often – “Reach the Unreached”. A simple, yet powerful message from a simple, yet powerful man.