M.S. Swaminathan, FRS

M. S. Swaminathan

M. S. Swaminathan

Professor M.S. Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being  Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.  He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programmes as “the Father of Economic Ecology” and by Javier Perez de Cuiellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, as a “ living legend”  who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”.   He was Chairman of the UN Science Advisory Committee set up in 1980 to take follow-up action on the Vienna Plan of Action.  He has also served as an Independent Chairman of the FAO Council and President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  He also served as President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (2002-07) and President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2005-07).

A plant geneticist by training, Professor Swaminathan’s contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement.  His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security.  The International Association of Women and Development conferred on him the first international award for significant contributions to promoting the knowledge, skill, and technological empowerment of women in agriculture and for his pioneering role in mainstreaming gender considerations in agriculture and rural development. Professor Swaminathan was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971, the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, the first World Food Prize in 1987, and Volvo and Tyler Prize for Environment, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2000 and the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal and the Mahatma Gandhi Prize of UNESCO in 2000.

Professor Swaminathan is a Fellow of many of the leading scientific academies of India and the world, including the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences.  He has received 60 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world.  He was formerly Chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, Government of India and currently serving as the Member of the Parliament of India (Rajya Sabha), to which position he was nominated in May, 2007 by the Government of India in recognition of his contributions in the field of agricultural research and development.  He was awarded by the President of India , the Padma Shri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1972) and the Padma Vibhushan (1989).

Professor Swaminathan has served as Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi (1966-72), Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79), Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture (1979-80), Acting Deputy Chairman and later Member, Union Planning Commission (1980—82), Director General of the International Rice Research Institute, the Philippines (1982-88).  Currently he holds the UNESCO Chair in Eco-technology and also serves as the Chairman of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai.