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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century > Moonkombu Samabasivam Swaminathan

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

Monkombu Sambasivam Swaminathan

see also Indians of 20th Century - M.S. Swaminathan

From the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) website:

Swaminathan"Dr. M.S. Swaminathan has worked for the past 45 years with scientists and policy makers on a wide range of problems in basic and applied plant genetics as well as in agricultural research and development. As Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operation, he developed a strong food security system in India. As one of the leaders of the Green Revolution in India, he now recognises the need for an "Evergreen Revolution" to extend the benefits of development to the most marginalised. His work in crop genetics and sustainable agricultural development in India and the Third World earned him the first World Food Prize in 1987, the Tyler and Honda Prizes in 1991 and the UNEP Sasakawa Award in 1994.

Dr. Swaminathan served as Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (1972-78) and of the International Rice Research Institute (1982-88). He served as Independent Chairman of the FAO Council (1981-85) and as the President of International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984-1990). He was the president of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of India and is member of various academies including the Royal Society of London, US National Academy of Sciences, Russian Academy, Italian, and Chinese Academies.

From the World Food Prize Website

1987 World Food Prize Laureate
M.S. Swaminathan

"The word `impossible' exists mainly in our minds," his father once told him, "but given the requisite will and effort, great tasks can be accomplished." In a career dedicated to alleviating human suffering, Dr. Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan has completed the work of many lifetimes.

He is widely recognized as the architect of the "Green Revolution" in India, which radically improved agricultural yields through the introduction of genetically superior grain varieties. This work alone transformed India from a "begging bowl" to a "breadbasket" almost overnight, nearly doubling the total crop yield from 12 million tons to 23 million tons in four crop seasons.

His enthusiasm for passing on knowledge has earned him a reputation as a lucid educator. And his record of community service and political leadership has won him recognition as a profound humanitarian.

The impact of Dr. Swaminathan's work has reached far beyond the borders of his homeland. His worldwide reputation has made him an apt choice to chair many prestigious international conferences, including the UN. World Food Congress in Rome in 1974. His foresight and inspiration have led to the establishment of renowned organizations to promote international scientific collaboration, notably the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, where he has served as President, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, and the International Federation of Agricultural Research Systems for Development - the first significant efforts to promote scientific collaboration in developing countries.

India, Dr. Swaminathan's homeland, is a country whose 780 million people comprise 20% of the Third World population; seven out of ten people live in rural areas. Dr. Swaminathan has long held that the key to enhancing the prosperity of India-and many other nations-is to make agriculture the cornerstone of the economy.

In the `60s, as a cytogeneticist and administrator of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, he made major scientific advances, pioneering solutions to major agricultural problems in Asia. He led the way in introducing high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice to India-starting the "Green Revolution" that subsequently swept Southeast Asia.

By taking this new information to the farmer-at the farmer's level, with field demonstration plots- Dr. Swaminathan bypassed the stumbling block of illiteracy and converted a generation of Indians to a belief in the effectiveness of modern agriculture.

Dr. Swaminathan has often been noted for his understanding of the breadth of the entire food systems. His service in government is testament to this: in several political leadership positions, he established programs of ecological rehabilitation, rural development and technology transfer. His programs effectively helped subsistence farmers reap their fair share of credit and income while conserving national resources. "Ultimately," Swaminathan has stated, "it is the political will of the country to have policies in place which will stimulate production by small farmers. Without it, all research, technology...any external advice will go in vain."

At his side throughout his career has been his wife, Mina, herself a noted author, teacher and community leader

Dr. Swaminathan has also served as Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, The Phillippines. More than 600 researchers from around the world work to increase yields of one of the world's most important food crops.

IRRI released the first improved rice varieties in the mid-1960's; today farmers grow improved varieties on more than 55 percent of the Third World's ricelands/ Their increased production feeds 650 million more people than earlier varieties would have been able to do.

Dr. Swaminathan has proven that he is not only a brilliant scientist, but a capable administrator as well. His infectious enthusiasm and love of humanity have inspired and motivated thousands of others to give whole-heartedly to the cause he has chosen for his life's work: humbly serving the rural poor.

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