(Prof Shankar Chatterjee)
Most Memorable Day in My Life: Meeting with the Father of the Indian Green Revolution, Dr. M S Swaminathan Sir
I am a senior citizen and experienced many things as memorable events in my life – when I got my Ph.D., or job (s) or the chance to act in a Telugu movie, or played hockey at the national level, etc., but my most memorable day was when I met a great personality and renowned figure in the world Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, sir. When I met sir, I could not believe my eyes because such a meeting was the most joyful and inspiring event in my life. I met Sir on December 18, 2019, at MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, popularly known as MSSRF (established in 1988) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, a non-profit organization established by Sir. Anyway, I took his blessing as I feel he is ‘Annadata’ (food provider) to all of us. I was charmed to see a simple and wonderful human being and a ‘down to earth’ person, although endowed with ‘the ocean of knowledge.’ 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. 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. For his enormous contributions in the field of agriculture, Sir was awarded many national and international laurels. The recent one is the first World Agriculture Prize in 2017. There is no doubt that because of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan sir’s contribution, today India is self-sufficient in food grains, and 140 crore people are getting food. In the backdrop, we all know the severity of the food problem in 1943, the Bengal Famine, and later on in 1965, because of monsoon failure, India seriously suffered from the food-grain crisis.
Now, all are in history as Dr. Swaminathan sir has shown the path to the Indian Government and our farmers, how one can be self-sufficient, which all know as the ‘Green Revolution.’ Sir believed in sustainable development, especially using environmentally sustainable agriculture and preserving biodiversity, which he called an “evergreen revolution.” Sir successfully completed various coveted positions inter alia, of which were – Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research from 1972 to 1979, and after that, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India from 1979 to 1980. He served in the prestigious post of Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and was 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 the most influential Asian people of the 20th century.
Another noteworthy contribution of Dr. Swaminathan Sir to the world in general and India in particular is the 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 the use of modern science for sustainable agricultural and rural development. It focuses 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 in rural populations in agriculture, food, and nutrition.
MSSRF is carrying out research and development in the following major areas:
· as well as through the Media Resource Centre
In the chronicles of India’s agricultural history, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan sir stands as an inspiration of hope and innovation. Although Dr. Swaminathan Sir passed away on September 28, 2023, Indians will remember him from generation to generation.
(Dr. Shankar Chatterjee is a former Professor & Head (CPME), NIRD & PR, Hyderabad)