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Bharat Ratna Dr MS Swaminathan- The Man Who Saved India From the Wrath of Food Insecurity

Dr MS Swaminathan was conferred upon Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, a few days back. His contribution in the form of the Green Revolution of the 1960s still reverberates throughout the country.

Yukta Mudgal
Courtesy: MS Swaminathan Research Foundation
Courtesy: MS Swaminathan Research Foundation

Bharat Ratna Dr Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan could have become a surgeon and led a convenient life, but he chose agriculture and joined the nation’s stride to become self-sufficient in food grains. He chose to pursue agriculture, dedicating his life to revolutionizing farming practices in India. Dr MS Swaminathan was born in 1925 to MK Sambasivan, a surgeon, and Parvati Thangammal in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. A gem of India, with a very good pedigree including having being an alumnus of the University of Madras and the University of Cambridge.         

Let’s take a look at his inspiring journey.

Bharat Ratna MS Swaminathan's Enduring Legacy and Inspiration

Recognized posthumously with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor, this month, Swaminathan's illustrious career was marked by numerous accolades, including around 84 honorary doctorates, and civilian awards such as the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan. His contributions extended beyond national borders, earning him global recognition with the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Albert Einstein World Science Award, to name a few.

Response to Bengal Famine and Sustainable Farming           

Motivated by the harrowing Bengal famine of 1943, Swaminathan dedicated himself to developing sustainable farming methods. His pioneering research in genetics and plant breeding laid the foundation for higher crop yields and resilience against pests and adverse weather conditions.

 Dr MS Swaminathan Leading the Green Revolution

As a scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, he focused on plant genetics and breeding. He later learnt about Dr. Norman Borlaug who had developed a unique Mexican dwarf wheat variety with a higher production rate. This was Dr Swaminathan’s road toward developing high-yield variety seeds of wheat suitable for the Indian soil. Swaminathan's groundbreaking work in the Green Revolution transformed India's agricultural landscape. His initiatives tripled wheat harvests within the first year alone.

Advocacy for Women Farmers

Throughout his career, Swaminathan championed the cause of women farmers and rural development. His advocacy for women's rights in farming culminated in the Women Farmers' Entitlements Bill 2011, aimed at empowering women with land rights, access to credit, and technological resources.

Continued Commitment to Agricultural Advancements

Dr. Swaminathan remained committed to agricultural advancements and global initiatives promoting nutrition and rural connectivity. His efforts extended to establishing agricultural institutes across Asia, reinforcing his status as a global icon in agricultural science.

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