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M S SWAMINATHAN

Why is it in the news?

  • The legendary agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan passed away recently.

More about the news

  • Called the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’, he played a major role in the set of changes introduced in farming in the 1960s and ‘70s that helped India achieve food security.
  • Although he cleared the civil services examination, Swaminathan chose to pursue research in agriculture due to his strong interest in the field.
  • He decided to study agriculture after witnessing the Bengal famine in 1942-43 and Gandhi’s call for the Quit India Movement.
  • Swaminathan specialized in genetics and breeding, with a focus on developing high-yielding crop varieties that could respond to good soil fertility and water management.
  • The Green Revolution involved providing high-yielding variety seeds, adequate irrigation, and fertilizers to Indian farmers, primarily in regions like Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. This initiative led to a significant increase in crop production, particularly of wheat, reducing India’s dependence on food imports.
  • Swaminathan worked on developing semi-dwarf wheat varieties using mutagenesis but faced challenges. He collaborated with American scientist Norman Borlaug, who had incorporated dwarfing genes into spring wheat varieties in Mexico that were suitable for India. The “Wheat Revolution” ensued, marked by high-yielding dwarf wheat varieties.
  • Despite its success, the Green Revolution faced criticism for benefiting more prosperous farmers and leading to issues such as soil degradation, excessive pesticide use, and overuse of groundwater.
  • Swaminathan recognized the challenges faced by farmers and recommended that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops should be at least 50% more than the cost of production.
  • MS Swaminathan was awarded the first World Food Prize Laureate in 1987 for his role in introducing high-yielding wheat and rice varieties into India, which contributed to self-sufficiency in food production and alleviated food scarcity.
Green Revolution in India

 ·       In 1943, India faced a severe food crisis known as the Bengal Famine, resulting in the deaths of approximately 4 million people in eastern India due to hunger.

·       After gaining independence in 1947, India focused on expanding farming areas, but population growth outpaced food production.

·       Rapid population growth necessitated a significant increase in agricultural yield to meet food demand.

The Green Revolution

 ·       The Green Revolution in India marked a period when Indian agriculture transitioned into an industrial system.

·       It involved the adoption of modern agricultural methods and technology to boost agricultural productivity.

·       Key components included the use of High-Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides, and fertilizers.

·       The Green Revolution in India received financial support from various sources such as the U.S. government and Foundations such as the Ford and Rockefeller Foundation.

Emphasis on wheat production  

·       The Green Revolution in India is often referred to as the Wheat Revolution because wheat production experienced significant growth.

·       Between 1967-68 and 2003-04, wheat production in India increased by more than three times.

·       In contrast, the overall increase in cereal production was only two times.

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