Prof. Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, popularly known as M.S. Swaminathan, (born 7 August 1925) is a great personality not only in India but across the world as he has shown the path how a country can be self-sufficient in food-grains after experiencing severe food shortage because of drought. And for his enormous contributions in the field of agriculture, he was awarded with many national and international awards. The recent one is the first World Agriculture Prize in 2017. There is not an iota of doubt that because of Prof M.S. Swaminathan sir’s contribution today India is self-sufficient in food grains and 130 crores people are getting food. In the backdrop, we all know severity of the food problem in 1943, the Bengal famine and later on in 1965 because of monsoon failure India seriously suffered from food crisis. Now all are in history as Swaminathan sir has shown the path to both Indian Government and our farmers, how one can be self-sufficient which all know as ‘Green Revolution’. His vision is to get rid of the world from hunger and poverty and he is great believer of sustainable development, especially using environmentally sustainable agriculture and preservation of biodiversity, which he calls an “evergreen revolution.” He successfully completed various coveted positions and inter alia of which are – Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research from 1972 to 1979, after that Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India from 1979 to 1980. He served as prestigious post of Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and selected as the President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. For his excellent contributions, in 1999 the prestigious Time Magazine placed him in the ‘Time 200’ list of most influential Asian people of the 20th century.
Another praiseworthy contribution of Swaminathan Sir to the world in general and India in particular is setting up of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, popularly known as MSSRF in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. MSSRF (established in 1988) is a non-profit organisation.
The MSSRF aims to accelerate use of modern science for sustainable agricultural and rural development. It focuses specifically on tribal and rural communities with a pro-poor, pro-women and pro-nature approach. The Foundation applies appropriate science and technology options to address practical problems faced by rural populations in agriculture, food and nutrition.
MSSRF is carrying out research and development in the following major areas:
- Coastal Systems Research
- Climate Change
- Food Security
- Information, Education and Communication
- Gender and Grass Root Institutions
- as well as through the Media Resource Centre
I had the opportunity to meet Prof Swaminathan sir on 18 December 2019 at MSSRF in Chennai and took his blessing as I feel he is ‘Annadata’ (food provider) to all of us. Interaction was although few minutes but I was greatly enlightened. I was charmed to see such a simple and wonderful human being although endowed with ‘ocean of knowledge’, awards etc.; he is ‘down to earth’ person. Immediately the Sanskrit proverb, which I read in school days, came to my mind ‘Vidya Dadati Vinayam’ (simple meaning Knowledge makes a man perfect).
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)
NIRD &PR (Govt. of India),