Born on August 7, 1925 in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, TIME Magazine named Swaminathan among one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India. Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore are the other two Indians on the list.
Swaminathan's website notes that he served as Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (1961-72), Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79), Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture (1979-80), Acting Deputy Chairman and later Member (Science and Agriculture), Planning Commission (1980-82) and Director General, International Rice Research Institute, the Philippines (1982-88).
Back in the 1960s, Swaminathan, reportedly turned down plumb positions in academia and the government to work in agriculture research, helped cross-breed wheat seeds that allowed India to more than treble its annual crop in just 15 years.
“The Green Revolution created a sense of euphoria that we have solved our production problem. Now we have a plateau in production and productivity. We have a problem of under investment in rural infrastructure,” told news agency Reuters back in May 2008.
He had worked closely with two agriculture ministers of the country C Subramanian and Jagjivan Ram for the success of the Green Revolution.
The Green Revolution was a programme that paved the way for a huge growth in the production of rice and wheat through the adaptation of chemical–biological technology.
Dr Swaminathan was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha from 2007 till 2013 and had raised several issues concerning agriculture and farming in India.
He was awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987 following which he set up the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai.
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