M.S. Swaminathan, the driving force behind India’s transformative Green Revolution and a highly acclaimed agricultural scientist, has sadly passed away today, September 28, 2023, at his Chennai residence, at the remarkable age of 98. Notably, Swaminathan was honored with the inaugural World Food Prize in 1987, a recognition that led to the establishment of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Taramani, Chennai.
M.S. Swaminathan, often referred to as the “father of India’s Green Revolution,” breathed his last on Thursday at the age of 98. His groundbreaking work in developing high-yielding varieties of paddy significantly contributed to elevating the agricultural output of India’s low-income farmers. The final rites for this agricultural visionary are expected to be held on Sunday.
During his illustrious career, Swaminathan held various esteemed positions across different agricultural departments. He served as the Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (1961-72), Director General of ICAR and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79), Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture (1979-80), Acting Deputy Chairman and subsequently Member (Science and Agriculture) of the Planning Commission (1980-82), and Director General of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines (1982-88).
In 2004, Swaminathan was appointed as the chair of the National Commission on Farmers, established to address the distress faced by farmers, including alarming suicide rates. The commission’s report, submitted in 2006, recommended, among other things, that the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) should be set at a minimum of 50 percent above the weighted average cost of production.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences in a heartfelt message, saying, “Deeply saddened by the demise of Dr. MS Swaminathan Ji. 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. Beyond his revolutionary contributions to agriculture, Dr. Swaminathan was a powerhouse of innovation and a nurturing mentor to many. His unwavering commitment to research and mentorship has left an indelible mark on countless scientists and innovators. I will always cherish my conversations with Dr. Swaminathan. His passion to see India progress was exemplary. His life and work will inspire generations to come. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.”
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda also paid tribute, stating, “I feel sad to learn about the passing away of Dr. #MSSwaminathan. I have greatly benefited from his advice on many occasions and have been in touch with him till recently. My condolences to his family and friends. RIP Sir.”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan shared his condolences, saying, “Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of the architect of the Indian Green Revolution, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan. A true visionary and pioneer in agriculture and sustainable development. His tireless efforts to ensure food security and improve the lives of our farmers will always be remembered. Heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar added, “The demise of renowned agricultural scientist Shri MS Swaminathan, the father of the Indian Green Revolution and Padma Vibhushan awardee, is an irreparable loss for the Indian agricultural world. His incomparable contribution to improving agricultural production by developing high-yielding crop varieties and modern technologies will always be remembered. May God grant peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family in this hour of grief.”
Swaminathan’s legacy includes numerous accolades, including the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and the Padma Vibhushan, along with honors such as the H K Firodia Award, the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award, and the Indira Gandhi Prize. His international recognition includes the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1971) and the Albert Einstein World Science Award (1986).
M.S. Swaminathan is survived by his three daughters, Soumya Swaminathan, Madhura Swaminathan, and Nitya Swaminathan, following the passing of his wife, Mina, in 2022.