Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, Indian agricultural scientist, often called the father of India’s Green Revolution, passed away in his home in southern India’s Chennai city on September 28, 2023. He was 98.
Since the 1960s, Swaminathan has been a prominent figure in agricultural research, farmer’s welfare efforts, and sustainable technology. As a young scientist, he helped develop wheat seeds that helped end famine and propelled India to more than triple its annual crop in just 15 years.
Swaminathan held many leadership positions in government and scientific institutions, including the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi (1961-72) and, in the later years of his life, the Rajya Sabha, the Upper house of India’s Parliament.
For his remarkable contributions to agriculture, Swaminathan received numerous awards, including the prestigious first World Food Prize in 1987 and India’s second-highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 1989.
Later in life, when he was 82, Swaminathan’s research took a deeper dive into conservation farming and green technology. In an interview with Reuters, he emphasized the critical importance of these practices in shaping an “Evergreen Revolution,” which could support India to further enhance its role as a major global food supplier in the 21st century.
This renewed focus came as hybrid seeds, instrumental in the Green Revolution, had led farmers to overlook the potential ecological damage of intensive fertilizer and agrochemical use.
“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,” Swaminathan said.
Swaminathan is survived by his three daughters, Soumya Swaminathan, Madhura Swaminathan, and Nitya Rao.
“He leaves behind a rich legacy of Indian agriculture science which may serve as a guiding light to steer the world towards a safer and hunger-free future for humanity,” President of India Droupadi Murmu said in a social media post.
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