The Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (1925- 2023), also known as MS Swaminathan, made a remarkable contribution to India's Green Revolution, a movement that successfully tackled food insecurity in the nation. His recent passing signifies the end of an era of revolutionary innovation in agricultural research, education, and extension. Swaminathan is widely acknowledged for his unwavering dedication to enhance food security and agriculture, and he deserves admiration and appreciation from all those who have benefited from his work.
Born in Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency, in 1925, Swaminathan pursued higher education in zoology and agriculture from 1947–1949. He joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in 1954 and collaborated with Dr. Norman Borlaug on wheat from 1979–1982. Swaminathan also developed high-yielding dwarf wheat varieties and used mutation technology for various crops.
The Green Revolution, led by Norman Borlaug and M. S. Swaminathan, was introduced in the 1960s to India to boost food grain production, particularly wheat and rice. This revolution was necessary due to the massive food crisis caused by the Bengal Famine of 1943 and the country's growing population. Despite the creditable growth of agricultural output between 1949 and 1965, India faced food shortages since the mid-1950s. The Green Revolution in India supported the quantitative expansion of farmlands to meet rising agricultural demands, including the double-cropping system, which introduced two crop seasons annually instead of one. It also used seeds with improved genetics, mainly for wheat and rice, developed by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research. The main crops included wheat, rice, Jowar, Bajra, and maize, with a focus on food grains, particularly wheat.
The positive impact of the Green Revolution was the increase in crop yields, food production, and private investment. Crop yields per acre grew at 2.5% per year between 1967-68 and 1989-90, and India achieved self-sufficiency in food production and built buffer food stocks. The revolution also generated a rapid increase in the marketable surplus of food grains, primarily boosting wheat production. However, the Green Revolution had negative impacts on the agrarian society, including increasing inequality, commercialization of agriculture favoring farmers with resources, increased poverty conditions, displacement of tenant cultivators, and social violence. Government initiatives for the Green Revolution include the Green Revolution Krishonnati Yojana, which aims to develop agriculture and allied sectors scientifically to increase farmer income, and the Evergreen Revolution, proposed by Dr. M S Swaminathan, which aims to increase productivity in an environmentally safe, economically viable, and socially sustainable way. In conclusion, the Green Revolution was a necessary step to meet the challenges of the Indian economy, population, and agriculture in the post-independence growth years He led India out of the "Hunger Trap" by introducing the Green Revolution, significantly increasing food production and ensuring food security.
His research focused on crop productivity, nutrition, biofortification, funding for agriculture, precision farming, and promoting women in agriculture. His leadership at the International Rice Research Institute led to advancements in rice cultivation, including C4 carbon fixation capabilities and high-yielding Basmati rice. Swaminathan also contributed to the Kuttanad and Kerala's biodiversity through the Kuttanad Package, which recommended declaring the wetland system a Special Agricultural Zone, protecting water spread areas, modernizing infrastructure, and encouraging short-duration paddy varieties. He advocated for biodiversity conservation through the MSSRF's 2008 report on the Idukki District and the establishment of the Community Agrobiodiversity Centre in Wayanad. Key scientific terms associated with Swaminathan's research include the Green Revolution, cytogenetics, carbon fixation, and C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways. .
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