Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and the Green Revolution: A Transformative Legacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Green Revolution

Mains level: Read the attached story

Dr. M.S. Swaminathan

Central Idea

  • Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the revered agricultural scientist renowned as the “Father of the Green Revolution” in India, passed away at the age of 98.
  • His legacy is deeply interwoven with India’s journey towards achieving food security.

Who was Dr. M.S. Swaminathan?

  • Civil Services to Agriculture: Although Dr. Swaminathan initially cleared the civil services examination, his heart was set on agriculture. His fascination with farming led him to pivot his career towards agricultural research.
  • The Turning Point: Influenced by the Bengal famine of 1942-43, which he viewed as a consequence of British policies, Dr. Swaminathan chose to study agriculture, particularly genetics and breeding. This decision was instrumental in shaping India’s agricultural landscape.

Timeline of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan’s remarkable life and contributions:

Year Milestones
1925 Born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency.
1940s Pursued higher education in zoology and later completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science.
1949-1954 Conducted research on combating potato crop parasites during a UNESCO fellowship and earned a PhD from the University of Cambridge.
1954 Specialized in the genus Solanum and started researching fertilizers and high-yielding wheat varieties.
1965-70 Collaborated with Dr. Norman Borlaug to develop high-yield semi-dwarf wheat varieties, pioneering the Green Revolution in India.
1979-1982 Appointed as Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and served in various government roles.
1982 Became Director General of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
1987 Awarded the first World Food Prize for his contributions to agriculture.
2002 Elected as President of the Pugwash Conferences on science and world affairs.
2004 Appointed as the chair of the National Commission on Farmers, which recommended significant reforms for Indian agriculture.
2005 Joined the United Nations Millennium Project’s Hunger Task Force and developed targets to combat poverty and hunger.
2007 Nominated to the Rajya Sabha and presented the Women Farmers’ Entitlements Bill.
2013 onwards Continued involvement in various initiatives focused on nutrition, internet access, and agricultural institutes worldwide.


Green Revolution: A Game-Changer

  • Revolutionary Change: Dr. Swaminathan’s pioneering work led to the introduction of high-yielding variety seeds, improved irrigation facilities, and fertilizers to farmers in regions like Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. This transformative period marked the beginning of India’s Green Revolution.
  • Impact on Wheat Production: The Green Revolution witnessed a remarkable increase in wheat production. In 1947, India produced about 6 million tonnes of wheat annually, which soared to about 17 million tonnes between 1964 and 1968, significantly enhancing the nation’s self-sufficiency in food production.

Swaminathan’s Contribution to the Green Revolution

Semi-Dwarf Wheat Varieties Aimed to reduce wheat plant height, preventing lodging while maintaining grain yield.
Collaboration with Norman Borlaug Collaborated with Norman Borlaug to incorporate dwarfing genes into spring wheat varieties suitable for India.
The Wheat Revolution A collaborative effort starting in 1963, leading to high-yield semi-dwarf wheat varieties.
Role of HYVs Focused on developing high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice, crucial for combating drought and famine.
Yield Gap Reduction Targeted increasing productivity on existing farmland through HYVs, mitigating the threat of famine.
Cytogenetics Expertise Contributions extended to studying chromosomes (cytogenetics), identifying traits like disease resistance.

Challenges and Ethical Commitments

  • Unintended Consequences: Despite its successes, the Green Revolution faced criticism for benefiting prosperous farmers and causing ecological issues.
  • Dr. Swaminathan’s Advocacy: As the head of the National Commission on Farmers, he advocated for fair Minimum Support Prices for farmers and highlighted concerns related to soil fertility, pesticide use, and water management.

Legacy and Recognition

International Accolades – Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1971

– Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986

– UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize in 1994

– UNESCO Gandhi Gold Medal in 1999

– Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development in 1999

– Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award in 2000

– First World Food Prize Laureate in 1987.

National Awards (India) – Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award

– Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development

Civilian Awards (India) – Padma Shri in 1967

– Padma Bhushan in 1972

– Padma Vibhushan in 1989

Honorary Doctorates – Received over 80 honorary doctorates from universities worldwide
Civilian Awards (Other Nations) – Honored with civilian awards from nations like the Philippines, France, Cambodia, China
Fellowships in Scientific Academies – Elected as a fellow in several scientific academies in Russia, Sweden, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, China, Bangladesh

Back2Basics: Key Terms Explained

  • Hexaploid Wheat: Also known as “bread wheat,” hexaploid wheat contains six sets of chromosomes and is a globally cultivated cereal crop.
  • Carbon Fixation: The process by which crops capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into organic compounds, primarily through photosynthesis.
  • C3 and C4 Pathways: Photosynthetic pathways used by plants for carbon fixation, with C4 being more efficient.
  • C4 Rice Plant: A type of rice that employs the C4 photosynthetic pathway, which Dr. Swaminathan worked on during his tenure at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

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