India mourns the father of the “Green Revolution” that lifted the country out of famine

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Professor Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan died this Thursday, September 28, at the age of 98. His work enabled the country to transform its agriculture in the 1960s.

The Indian geneticist Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, father of “the green revolution», died on Thursday, September 28, in India, where his work made it possible to end chronic food shortages in the country in the 1960s. According to news agency PTI, the famous 98-year-old geneticist and agronomist died in Madras, Tamil Nadu state, where he came from.

The scientist looks back on a brilliant academic career that earned him 84 honorary doctorates. His work in breeding higher yielding varieties of wheat and rice and training farmers to grow these varieties helped lift India out of famine and become a food exporting country. “At a very critical time in our nation’s history, his groundbreaking work in agriculture transformed the lives of millions of people and ensured our nation’s food security“, greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on X (ex-Twitter).

Professor Swaminathan received his doctorate in genetics from Cambridge University in 1952, but turned down a professorship in the United States to return to India, which had become independent, and “Serve the nation“. He notably worked with the American agronomist Norman Borlaug, whose contributions to improving global food supplies earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took office in 1966, Swaminathan introduced a new agricultural program. Chronic food shortages turned the Indian economy from foreign dependent on aid, but in the early 1970s new technologies made them self-sufficient.

Crisis is the mother of invention. We faced a crisis in the 1960s and succeeded», the scientist explained to AFP in 2008. His work was rewarded with numerous awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Prize, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, in 1971 and the first World Food Prize in 1987. United Nations Secretary-General at the time Javier Perez de Cuellar stated: “His contributions to agricultural science have had a lasting impact on food production in India and developing countries“.

He later served briefly as a member of the Indian Parliament. Time magazine counted him, alongside the Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi and the poet Rabindranath Tagore, as one of the three most influential Indians of the 20th century.

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