Interview with Professor M S Swaminathan, founder and chairman of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in India
Professor Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is a man who has gifted much to the world. A world-renowned Indian agricultural scientist, he is widely known in his home country as the "Father of the Green Revolution".
Swaminathan earned this soubriquet following the groundbreaking work he did as a plant geneticist in the 1960s — work that led to the development of hybrid wheat seeds capable of producing yields three times higher than was previously possible.
This was nothing less than a gift of life for his countrymen who, in the aftermath of WWII, found themselves unable to grow enough food to feed their burgeoning population, and so had to live a "ship-to-mouth" existence, subsisting on food grains imported from the US.
Born in Tamil Nadu in 1925, Swaminathan obtained degrees in zoology and agricultural science, and then moved to New Delhi to study cytogenetics; subsequently he undertook research in the Netherlands, at the UK's Plant Breeding Institute, and then at the University of Wisconsin.
At this point in his career Swaminathan could have settled for a comfortable academic life in the US. Instead he chose to return to India. As he put it in 1999 to TIME magazine, "I asked myself, why did I study genetics? It was to produce enough food in India. So I came back." ...
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