Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (MS Swaminathan), veteran agricultural scientist and father of India’s ‘Green Revolution,’ died at the age of 98 in Chennai on Thursday.
Swaminathan was instrumental in developing high-yielding varieties of paddy that helped ensure India’s low-income farmers produce more yield.
His leadership as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines was instrumental in his being awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987, recognized as one of the highest honours in the field of agriculture. The United Nations Environment Programme has called him “the Father of Economic Ecology.”
Swaminathan contributed basic research related to potato, wheat, and rice, in areas such as cytogenetics, ionizing radiation, and radio sensitivity.
He has been a president of the Pugwash Conferences and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In 1999, he was one of three Indians, along with Gandhi and Tagore, on Time’s list of the 20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century. Swaminathan received numerous awards and honours, including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and the Albert Einstein World Science Award. Swaminathan chaired the National Commission on Farmers in 2004, which recommended far-reaching ways to improve India’s farming system. He was the founder of an eponymous research foundation. He coined the term ‘Evergreen Revolution’ in 1990 to describe his vision of “productivity in perpetuity without associated ecological harm”. He was nominated to the Parliament of India for one term between 2007 and 2013. During his tenure he tabled a bill for the recognition of women farmers in India.