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The Father of Green Revolution - M.S Swaminathan

The Green Revolution was a transformational period in India's agricultural history that helped turn the nation from a starving country to an exporter of grains. Initiated in the late 1960s, it focused on the adoption of high-yielding seed varieties, modern irrigation projects, and improved farming practices.

At the forefront of this movement was M.S. Swaminathan, considered the father of the Green Revolution in India. His scientific leadership and perseverance helped bring about this agricultural breakthrough that would permanently alleviate India's famines.

M.S. Swaminathan

The Green Revolution & why was It necessary?

Before the Green Revolution, India was grappling with food scarcity, low crop yields, and an ever-growing population. The situation was dire, and the country was heavily dependent on food imports.

The father of green revolution India

The need for a solution was urgent, and that's where the Green Revolution came into play. Primarily, the Green Revolution was implemented in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. These regions were chosen due to their fertile soil and availability of water, making them ideal for testing new agricultural methods.

Impact of Green Revolution

The Green Revolution had a profound impact on India's agricultural landscape. Crop yields soared, and India became self-sufficient in food production. However, it wasn't without its drawbacks, such as environmental degradation and social inequality. Nonetheless, the positives outweigh the negatives, and the man behind this revolution was M.S. Swaminathan.

green revolution crop production
Green revolution trend 1950 - 2017

Who is M.S. Swaminathan?

M.S. Swaminathan, or Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, is a name that is synonymous with agricultural revolution in India. Born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, he is a geneticist and international administrator, renowned for his leading role in India's Green Revolution. Swaminathan was born into a family of doctors but chose a different path. He pursued a Bachelor's degree in Zoology from Maharaja's College, University of Madras. Later, he specialised in genetics and plant breeding, earning a Ph.D. from the School of Agriculture at the University of Cambridge.

Career Milestones of M.S. Swaminathan

In 1947, Swaminathan joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi as a research assistant. He worked closely with wheat scientist Dr. B.P. Pal - Father of wheat genetics and breeding who became a lifelong mentor.

In 1949, Swaminathan traveled to the University of Wisconsin as part of an academic exchange program, gaining valuable research experience in cytogenetics and food production. This would aid him as he later adapted foreign techniques to Indian conditions.

By 1956, he had risen to lead IARI's Division of Genetics. There, his team developed high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat strains by cross-breeding winter and spring wheat varieties from Mexico and Japan. This pioneering research would lay the foundation for the Green Revolution's success.

In 1971, Swaminathan was appointed first Director-General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). There he continued expanding food production through improved irrigation, fertilisation, and biotechnology. His advocacy helped drive acceptance of the Green Revolution's methods.

Impact and Recognition of M.S Swaminathan

In the 1980s, Swaminathan recognized the environmental limits of chemical-driven agriculture. He founded the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, aiming to promote sustainable farming models and conserve biodiversity. His research on the value of traditional crops helped broaden the Green Revolution's focus.

M.S. Swaminathan is credited with preparing India for agricultural self-sufficiency amid a rapidly growing population. Wheat production jumped from 12 million tonnes annually in 1965 to over 55 million tonnes by the 1970s. In 1978–1979, a tremendous increase in crop production led to a grain output of 131 million tones, making India one of the largest agricultural producers in the world. India went from facing chronic famines to becoming a leading exporter of grain.

For his scientific leadership and policy contributions, Swaminathan has earned widespread accolades:

Ramon Magsaysay Award (1971)

Padma Bhushan (1972)

World Food Prize (1987)

Padma Vibhushan (1989)

M.S. Swaminathan passed away today (28 September, 2023) at the age of 98 but he will always remain an inspirational figure and powerful advocate for sustainable agricultural development globally.

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