In a somber moment for India and the world of agriculture, the renowned agronomist and pioneer, Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, affectionately known as MS Swaminathan, has bid his final farewell. The 98-year-old luminary, who played a pivotal role in ushering in the Green Revolution in India, took his last breath at 11.20 am in Chennai. His demise marks the end of an era marked by groundbreaking innovations in agricultural research and education.
A Legacy of Transformation
MS Swaminathan’s legacy is nothing short of extraordinary. His visionary work in introducing and improving high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice was the cornerstone of India’s agricultural transformation. He was not merely an agricultural scientist and plant geneticist; he was the architect of the Green Revolution, a movement that changed the face of Indian farming.
A Global Luminary
His influence extended far beyond India’s borders. TIME magazine recognized him as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century, alongside luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. The United Nations Environment Programme hailed him as the “Father of Economic Ecology” for his leadership in the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture. Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, described him as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction.”
A Storied Career
Swaminathan’s illustrious career spanned several pivotal roles. He served as the Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute from 1961 to 1972, where his innovative research bore fruit. Subsequently, he held the position of Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agricultural Research and Education from 1972 to 1979. His contributions extended to being the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture from 1979 to 1980, Acting Deputy Chairman, and later Member (Science and Agriculture) of the Planning Commission from 1980 to 1982, and finally, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines from 1982 to 1988.
Tributes Pour In
The news of MS Swaminathan’s passing has left the world in mourning. The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) shared the heartbreaking news on social media, saying, “With profound sadness, we convey that our Founder – Professor M S Swaminathan passed away this morning at 11.15 am at his residence in Chennai. Let’s all pray for the departed soul. May our beloved Professor rest in peace.”
End of an Epoch
As the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Director A K Singh aptly puts it, “In passing away of Prof. Swaminathan, ends an era of agricultural research, education, and extension that was full of disruptive innovation. If God appears to the poor and hungry in the form of bread, as said by Mahatma Gandhi, that God is Dr. Swaminathan who should be worshipped by every citizen while taking daily meals.”
In the wake of MS Swaminathan’s passing, India and the world have lost a luminary, a pioneer, and a visionary. His contributions to agriculture have left an indelible mark, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations of scientists and farmers alike.