M.S. Swaminathan- Architect of India’s Green Revolution


Context: Renowned agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan passed away on September 28 at the age of 98.

About Dr. M.S. Swaminathan:

  • Dr. M.S. Swaminathan was born on 7 August 1925 in Kerala. 
  • A plant geneticist by training, he made a stellar contribution to the agricultural renaissance in the country and is popularly known as the Father of the Green Revolution in India.
image 14

Contributions of Dr. Swaminathan:

1. Increase in wheat production:

  • He played a pivotal role in introducing semi-dwarf Mexican wheat strains, Sonora 64 and Lerma Rojo 64 to Indian fields. 
  • He along with experts at the erstwhile Planning Commission put together a policy to subsidize fertilizers and power while expanding irrigation cover to promote the dwarf wheat variety, utilizing British-era water canals in Punjab and Haryana.
  • This led to a significant increase in wheat production, thus turning India from being dependent on humiliating food donations to feed its population to being a self-sufficient nation. 
    • In the early 1960s, India’s wheat and rice production was just 10-12 million tonnes (MT) and 35-36 MT, respectively, forcing massive grain imports that crossed 10 MT in 1966-67.
    • India had signed off on an agreement with the US called the “Public Law 480” to qualify for food aid. This food assistance was a political hazard because the aid came tied with conditions.
    • Following the successful green revolution, by the end of the 1960s, India’s wheat production crossed 20 MT. 

2. Increase in Rice production:

  • He introduced the fertiliser-responding high-yielding VARIETY of “Indica” rice from the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute.
    • He worked in the indica-japonica rice hybridization programme for transferring genes from the relatively non-lodging and fertiliser-responsive ‘Japonica’ rice varieties to indigenous ‘Indica’ races. 
  • He pioneered the development of popular basmati rice varieties — culminating in the Pusa Basmati variety in 1989, which was the world’s first semi-dwarf, high-yielding basmati variety.

3. Sustainable agriculture:

  • He consistently advocated for sustainable agriculture, emphasising the delicate balance between human advancement and ecological sustainability.
  • He had forewarned farmers in 1968 not to treat the productivity leap as an “evergreen revolution” by overusing subsidised agricultural chemicals which would ruin soil health.

4. Advocacy for Farmers’ welfare:

  • As the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers in 2004, he advocated for fair minimum support prices for crops. He recommended that MSP for crops be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production, ensuring fair compensation to farmers.
  • He played a pivotal role in developing the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001. 

5. Mainstreaming gender considerations in Agriculture: 

  • He advocated the empowerment of farm women in the areas of land and water rights, access to technology, credit and insurance and the ability to market their produce at a remunerative price. 
  • His efforts to empower women farmers helped shape India’s Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojana.


  • S.S. Bhatnagar Award for his contribution to biological sciences (1961)
  • Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1971)
  • Albert Einstein World Science Award (1986)
  • First World Food Prize (1987)
  • Padma Vibhushan (1989)
  • Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development (2000)
  • Mahatma Gandhi Prize of UNESCO (2000)

UPSC PYQ (2019)

Q. How was India benefited from the contributions of Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Dr. M.S. Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively?

Source: The Hindu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

FREE UPSC MasterClass
This is default text for notification bar