M.S. Swaminathan

Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (born 7 August 1925) is an Indian geneticist and international administrator, renowned for his leading role in India’s Green Revolution a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers. Swaminathan is known as “Indian Father of Green Revolution” for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India. He is the founder and chairman of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. His stated vision is to rid the world of hunger and poverty. Swaminathan is an advocate of moving India to sustainable development, especially using environmentally sustainable agriculture, sustainable food security and the preservation of biodiversity, which he calls an “evergreen revolution.”

From 1972 to 1979 he was director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He was Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture from 1979 to 1980. He served as Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and became president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1988.

In 1999, Time magazine placed him in the ‘Time 20’ list of most influential Asian people of the 20th century.

Swaminathan has worked worldwide in collaboration with colleagues and students on a wide range of problems in basic and applied plant breeding, agricultural research and development and the conservation of natural resources.

His professional career began in 1949:

  • 1949–55 – Research on potato (Solanum tuberosum), wheat (Triticum aestivum), rice (Oryza sativa), and jute genetics.
  • 1955–72 – Field research on Mexican dwarf wheat varieties. Teach Cytogenetics, Radiation Genetics, and Mutation Breeding and build up the wheat and rice germplasm collections at Indian Agricultural Research Institute IARI.
  • 1972–79 – Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), established the National Bureau of Plant, Animal, and Fish Genetic Resources of India.
    Established the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (changed in 2006 to Bioversity International).
  • 1979–80 – Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, Transformed the Pre-investment Forest Survey Programme into the Forest Survey of India.
  • 1981–85 – Independent chairman, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Council, Rome, played a significant role in establishing the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources.
  • 1983 – Developed the concept of Farmers’ Rights and the text of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IUPGR).President of the International Congress of Genetics.
  • 1982–88 – Director General, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), organised the International Rice Germplasm Centre, now named International Rice Genebank.
  • 1984–90 – President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources IUCN, develop the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD.
  • 1986–99 – Chairman of the editorial advisory board, World Resources Institute, Washington, D. C., conceived and produced the first “World Resources Report.”
  • 1988–91 – Chairman of the International Steering Committee of the Keystone International Dialogue on Plant Genetic Resources,[17] regarding the availability, use, exchange and protection of plant germplasm.
  • 1991–1995 – Member, Governing Board, Auroville Foundation
  • 1988–96 – President, World Wide Fund for Nature–India WWF, Organized the Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre.Organize the Community Biodiversity Conservation Programme.
  • 1988–99 – Chairman/Trustee, Commonwealth Secretariat Expert Group, organised the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, for the sustainable and equitable management of tropical rainforests in Guyana. The President of Guyana wrote in 1994 “there would have been no Iwokrama without Swaminathan.
  • 1990–93 – Founder/President, International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME)
  • 1988–98 – Chaired various committees of the Government of India to prepare draft legislations relating to biodiversity (Biodiversity Act) and breeders’ and farmers’ rights (Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act).
  • in 1993 Dr M. S. Swaminathan, headed an expert group to prepare a draft of a national population policy that would be discussed by the Cabinet and then by Parliament. In 1994 it submitted its report.
  • 1994 – Chairman of the Commission on Genetic Diversity of the World Humanity Action Trust. Established a Technical Resource Centre at MSSRF for the implementation of equity provisions of CBD and FAO’s Farmers’ Rights.
  • 1994 onwards – Chairman of the Genetic Resources Policy Committee (GRPC) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), development of policies for the management of the ex situ collections of International Agricultural Research Centers.
  • 1995–1999 chairman, Auroville Foundation
  • 1999 – Introduced the concept of trusteeship management of Biosphere reserves. Implemented the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
  • 2001 – Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee for the India – Bangladesh joint Project on Biodiversity Management in the Sundarbans World Heritage Site, funded by the UN Foundation and UNDP.
  • 2002 – President of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs which work towards reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats.
  • 2002 – 2005 – Co-chairman with Pedro Sanchezof the UN Millennium Task Force on Hunger, a comprehensive global action plan for fighting poverty, disease and environmental degradation in developing countries.
  • 2004 – 2014 – Chairman, National Commission on Farmers.
  • Over 68 students have done their PhD thesis work under his guidance.

On the occasion of the presentation of the First World Food Prize to Swaminathan in October 1987, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote: “Dr. Swaminathan is a living legend. His contributions to Agricultural Science have made an indelible mark on food production in India and elsewhere in the developing world. By any standards, he will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction.”

Swaminathan has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology.”

He was one of three from India included in Time magazine’s 1999 list of the “20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century,” the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.

Swaminathan was the featured speaker at the 2006 Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa on, 19 October 2006. He was sponsored by Humanities Iowa, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Swaminathan presented the “Third Annual Governor’s Lecture” and spoke on “THE GREEN REVOLUTION REDUX: Can we replicate the single greatest period of food production in all human history?” about the cultural and social foundations of the Green Revolution in India and the role of historic leaders in India, such as Mahatma Gandhi, in inspiring the Green Revolution there by calling for the alleviation of widespread hunger. He talked about the links between Gandhi and the great Iowa scientist George Washington Carver.

Swaminathan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Italian Academy of Sciences.

Courtesy : Wikipedia

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