Agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, considered a key architect of India’s Green Revolution, died on Thursday in Chennai, ANI reported. He was 98.
Soumya Swaminathan, former chief scientist at the World Health Organization and MS Swaminathan’s daughter, said that he had been unwell for the past few days. “His end came very peacefully this morning,” she said. “Till the end, he was committed to the farmers’ welfare and to the upliftment of the poorest in society.”
MS Swaminathan was born in 1925 in Kumbakonam in present-day Tamil Nadu. He began his career in 1949 by carrying out research on the genetics of agricultural commodities such as potatoes, wheat, rice and jute.
In the 1960s, Swaminathan – in collaboration with American agronomist Norman Borlaug and other scientists – developed high-yield varieties of wheat and rice, at a time when the country was facing the threat of a famine. The subsequent transition in agricultural practices – as part of which farmers began using high-yield varieties of the crops instead of the traditional ones – became known as the Green Revolution.
The Green Revolution led to a sharp jump in the productivity of wheat and rice, and is credited with helping India become self-sufficient in foodgrains.
Swaminathan served as the director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research from 1972 to 1979. He was also the principal secretary in the Union agriculture ministry from 1979 to 1980, and a member of the Planning Commission from 1980 to 1982.
The agricultural scientist was the founder of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was deeply saddened by Swaminathan’s death.
“At a very critical period in our nation’s history, his groundbreaking work in agriculture transformed the lives of millions and ensured food security for our nation,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said that Swaminathan’s contribution to Indian agriculture transformed the lives of millions of people. “We are committed to take his vision forward every opportunity we get,” he said.