MS Swaminathan Passes away


Context: MS Swaminathan, the renowned Indian agricultural scientist, passed away on marking the end of an era in the Indian agriculture sector.

Monkomb Sambasivan Swaminathan

  • Swaminathan was a geneticist as well as an administrator. 
  • He headed the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • He became the Director General of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
  • He was awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987.
  • Swaminathan was conferred the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan for his outstanding contributions. 
  • He received several other awards like the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award and the Indira Gandhi Prize. 
  • He chaired the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) and submitted 5 reports. 

Contribution of MS Swaminathan 

Lanscape of India Before Green Revolution 

  • There were two consecutive drought years in 1965-66 and 1966-67. 
  • Foodgrain production in India fell to 72-74 million tonnes (mt) during these two years, from an average of 83 mt in the previous five years.
  • India had to rely on imports, mainly of wheat from the US under the latter’s PL-480 programme. These imports peaked at 10.36 mt in 1966.

Introduction of Green Revolution by MS Swaminathan and Food Secure India

  • The “ship to mouth” situation then forced a political decision by the government to import 18,000 tonnes of seeds of the Lerma Rojo 64A and Sonora 64.
  • Swaminathan worked hard to convince our political leadership to import of seeds of high-yielding dwarf wheat varieties from Mexico.
  • The seeds had to be indigenised to local conditions. 
  • With Kalyan Sona and Sonalika, the new indigenised wheat varieties, India changed its agriculture paradigm under Swaminathan’s leadership and India experienced a wheat and rice revolution. 
  • In the last three years, 2020-21 to 2022-23, India exported 85 million tonnes of cereals contributing to global food security.
  • Forty per cent of global exports of rice come from India. 

Swaminathan Formula to Address Farmer Distress

  • National Commission on Farmers that he headed in 2004-06 recommended that the minimum support prices for crops count not only out-of-pocket expenses of farmers (Cost A2) but also imputed wages of family labour (FL), imputed rent on owned land and imputed interest on owned capital. The government did not accept that.
  • Later, the government went halfway and accepted at least a 50 per cent return over Cost A2+FL. 

Overall Contribution 

  • Green revolution brought by the contribution of Swaminathan and the introduction of High Yield Varieties (HYVs) seeds made India food secure. 
  • The efforts put in agriculture by MS Swaminathan brought a rice and wheat revolution in India and made India net importer to net exporter of wheat and rice.
  • The research done by him in agriculture made him a role model for youth and led to the promotion of research in the younger generations. 
  • The spillover of income generated by farmers in the agriculture sector led to formation of industry as agriculture income move to other sectors of economy.
  • Food secure India gave government a needed breathing space to invest in the security of India which led to the successful countering of wars.
  • The MSP formula and increased income to farmers led to decrease in farm distress and farmer suicides.

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