M.S. Swaminathan was a farmer-scientist who led India for self-reliance

Professor M.S. Swaminathan said our country lost a visionary who revolutionized agricultural science, a stalwart whose contribution to India will always be engraved in golden letters. Professor M.S. Swaminathan loved India and wanted our country and especially our farmers to live a life of prosperity.

Academically brilliant, he could have chosen any career, but he was so affected by the Bengal famine of 1943 that he made it clear that if there was one thing he would do, it would be to study agriculture.

At a relatively young age, he came into contact with Dr. Norman Borlaug and followed his work in detail. In the 1950s, he was offered a faculty position in the US but declined it because he wanted to work in India and for India.

I want you all to think about the challenging circumstances in which he stood as a great man and led our country on the path of self-reliance and self-confidence. In the first two decades after independence, we faced enormous challenges and one of them was food shortage.

In the early 1960s, India was grappling with the ominous shadow of famine and it was then that Professor Swaminathan’s steadfast commitment and foresight ushered in a new era of agricultural prosperity. His pioneering work in specific areas such as agriculture and wheat breeding led to a significant increase in wheat production, transforming India from a food-deficient country to a self-reliant nation. This tremendous achievement earned him the well-deserved title of “Father of the Indian Green Revolution”.

The Green Revolution offered a glimpse of India’s “can-do spirit” – that if we have a billion challenges, we also have a billion minds with the flame of innovation to overcome those challenges. Five decades after the Green Revolution began, Indian agriculture has become much more modern and progressive. But, the foundation laid by Professor Swaminathan can never be forgotten.

Over the years, he conducted pioneering research into combating parasites affecting potato crops. His research also enabled potato crops to withstand cold weather. Today, the world is talking about millets or Sri Anna as a superfood, but Professor Swaminathan has encouraged the discussion around millets since the 1990s.