M. S. Swaminathan

Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (born 7 August 1925) is an Indian geneticist and administrator, known for his role in India's Green Revolution. Swaminathan has been called the Father of Green Revolution in India for his role in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India.[citation needed] He is the founder of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.[1]

M. S. Swaminathan
Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan - Kolkata 2013-01-07 2685.JPG
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
2007 (2007)–2013 (2013)
Born (1925-08-07) 7 August 1925 (age 96)
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Mina Swaminathan
Children3 (incl. Soumya Swaminathan)
Scientific career
InstitutionsIndian Council of Agricultural Research

In 1999, he was one of 3 Indians on Time's list of the 20 Most Influential Asian People of the 20th Century.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

M. S. Swaminathan was born in Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency on 7 August 1925. He was the second son of surgeon Dr. M. K. Sambasivan and Parvati Thangammal Sambasivan. After his father's death when he was 11, young Swaminathan was looked after by his uncle. He attended the local high school and later the Catholic Little Flower High School in Kumbakonam, from which he matriculated at age 15.[3] Coming from a family of doctors, he took admission in a medical school. But, when he witnessed the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, he decided to devote his life to getting rid of hunger from India. He was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi while he took this decision. He switched from the medical field to the agricultural field.[4] He then went on to finish his undergraduate degree in Biology at Maharaja's College in Trivandrum, Kerala (now known as University College, Thiruvananthapuram). He studied there from 1940–44 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology.

Later Swaminathan decided to pursue a career in agricultural sciences and enrolled in Madras Agricultural College (now the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University) where he graduated as valedictorian with another Bachelor of Science degree, this time in Agricultural Science.

In 1947, the year of Indian independence he moved to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi as a post-graduate student in genetics and plant breeding. He obtained a post-graduate degree with high distinction in Cytogenetics in 1949.

He was a UNESCO fellow at the Wageningen Agricultural University, Institute of Genetics in the Netherlands. Here he succeeded in standardizing procedures for transferring genes from a wide range of wild species of Solanum to the cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum. In 1950, he moved to study at the Plant Breeding Institute of the University of Cambridge School of Agriculture. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in 1952, for his thesis, "Species Differentiation, and the Nature of Polyploidy in certain species of the genus Solanum – section Tuberarium."

Swaminathan accepted a post-doctoral research associateship at the University of Wisconsin, Laboratory of Genetics to help set up a USDA potato research station. He returned to India in early 1954.


Dr Swaminathan is a prolific scientific researcher and writer. He published 46 single-author papers between 1950 and 1980. Out of 118 two author papers, he was first author of 80. Out of 63 three-author papers he was first author of 15. Out of 21 four-author papers he was first author of 9. In total he had 254 papers to his credit, 155 of which he was the single or first author. His scientific papers are in the fields of crop improvement (95), cytogenetics and genetics (87) and phylogenetics (72). His most frequent publishers were Indian Journal of Genetics (46), Current Science (36), Nature (12) and Radiation Botany (12).[5] Some of the papers are listed below.

In addition he has written a few books on the general theme of his life's work, biodiversity and sustainable agriculture for alleviation of hunger.

Swaminathan's books include

  • 50 Years of Green Revolution - An Anthology of Research Papers, 2017
  • M. S. Swaminathan - Legend in Science and Beyond, 2017
  • In Search of Biohappiness - Biodiversity and Food, Health and Livelihood Security (2nd Edition), 2015
  • In Search of Biohappiness - Biodiversity and Food, Health and Livelihood Security, 2011
  • Science and Sustinable Food Security - Selected Papers of M S Swaminathan, 2010
  • An Evergreen Revolution, 2006.[6]
  • I Predict: A Century of Hope Towards an Era of Harmony with Nature and Freedom from Hunger, (1999)[7]
  • "Gender Dimensions in Biodiversity Management", (ed.) (1998)[8]
  • Implementing the Benefit Sharing Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity: Challenges and opportunities (1997)[9]
  • Agrobiodiversity and Farmers' Rights, 1996[10]
  • "Sustainable Agriculture: Towards Food Security"[11]
  • Farmers’ Rights and Plant Genetic Resources: A dialogue. (ed.) (1995)[12]
  • Wheat Revolution: a Dialogue (ed) (1993)[13]

Research reportsEdit

He has published laboratory research results in several scientific journals and increasingly writes for a wider audience in environmental journals.[14][15]


A scientific paper in which Swaminathan and his team claimed to have produced a mutant breed of wheat by gamma irradiation of a Mexican variety (Sonora 64) resulting in Sharbati Sonora, claimed to have a very high lysine content, led to a major controversy. The case was claimed to be an error made by the laboratory assistant.[16] The episode was also compounded by the suicide of an agricultural scientist.[17][18][19][20][21] Recent workers have studied it as part of a systemic problem in Indian agriculture research.[22]

Later yearsEdit

14th Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi releasing a 2 part book series M.S. Swaminathan in New Delhi on 2017.
  • He currently holds the UNESCO -Cousteau Chair[23] in Ecotechnology at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India.
  • He is the chairman of the National Commission on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security of India (National Commission on Farmers).[24]
  • He is currently spearheading a movement to bridge the Digital divide called, "Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre".[25]
  • Bruce Alberts, President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said of Dr. Swaminathan: "At 80, M.S. retains all the energy and idealism of his youth, and he continues to inspire good behavior and more idealism
    from millions of his fellow human beings on this Earth. For that, we can all be thankful
  • M. S. Swaminathan is also a member of the Leadership Council of Compact2025, a partnership that develops and disseminates evidence-based advice to politicians and other decision-makers aimed at ending hunger and undernutrition in the coming 10 years.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

M.S. Swaminathan is married to Mina Swaminathan whom he met in 1951 while they were both studying at Cambridge. They live in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Their three daughters are Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Dr. Madhura Swaminathan, and Nitya Swaminathan. Swaminathan and Mina have 5 grandchildren.

Further readingEdit

  • "M.S. Swaminathan – One Man's Quest for a Hunger-Free World" was written in 2002 by Gita Gopalakrishnan, Education Development Center (EDC), Sri Venkatesa Printing House, Chennai, pp. 132 ISBN 81-7276-260-7 Full text:.
  • "Scientist and Humanist: M.S. Swaminathan" by R.D. Iyer, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, 2002. pp. 245 Excerpt with photos

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ barunroy (27 February 2009). "SIKKIM: Prof MS Swaminathan appointed as Chancellor of Sikkim University". The Himalayan Beacon. Darjeeling: Beacon Publications. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  2. ^ Asians of the Century: A Tale of Titans, TIME 100: 23–30 August 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 7/8
  3. ^ The 1971 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership Retrieved on 26 March 2013
  4. ^ MS Swaminathan - On future of Indian agriculture, YouTube
  5. ^ Kalyane, V. L. and Kalyane, S. V. (1994) Scientometric portrait of M. S. Swaminathan. Library Science 31(1): pp. 31–46. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Swaminathan M.S. (2006). "An Evergreen Revolution". Crop Science. 46 (5): 2293–2303. doi:10.2135/cropsci2006.9999. PMID 11190235.
  7. ^ Swaminathan M.S., (1999)"I Predict: A Century of Hope Towards an Era of Harmony with Nature and Freedom from Hunger", East West Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd.[]
  8. ^ Swaminathan MS, ed., (1998) Gender Dimensions in Biodiversity Management, New Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd.
  9. ^ M.S. Swaminathan (1997), "Implementing the Benefit Sharing Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity: Challenges and opportunities", Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter, No.112, pp. 19–27.
  10. ^ Swaminathan MS, Agrobiodiversity and Farmers' Rights, 1996. New Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd. [1]
  11. ^ Swaminathan, M.S.,(1996) "Sustainable Agriculture: Towards Food Security", Konark, New Delhi.
  12. ^ M.S. Swaminathan (ed.) (1995), Farmers’ Rights and Plant Genetic Resources: A dialogue. Madras: Macmillan India Ltd.[2]
  13. ^ Swaminathan MS (ed) (1993) Wheat Revolution: a Dialogue. Madras, Macmillan India Ltd.
  14. ^ National Center for Biotechnology Information, Literature databases, Swaminathan MS, search result [3]
  15. ^ U.S.D.A., National Agricultural Library, Agricola, search: Swaminathan, M. S., result = 198 articles.[4][permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Kohn, Alexander (1997) False Prophets: Fraud An Error In Science And Medicine.
  17. ^ Hanlon, Joseph Top food scientist published false data. New Scientist Vol. 64, No. 922, pp. 436–37
  18. ^ Robert S. Anderson 1983 Cultivating Science as Cultural Policy: A Contrast of Agricultural and Nuclear Science in India. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 56, No. 1 pp. 38–50
  19. ^ New Scientist. "Defence of Swaminathan" (letters). New Scientist, 1975 (30 January): 280–281.
  20. ^ New Scientist. "Swaminathan controversy" (letters). New Scientist, 1975 (February): 339.
  21. ^ New Scientist. "Swaminathan controversy" (letters). New Scientist, 1974 (26 December): 948.
  22. ^ Rajeswari Sarala Raina (1999) Professionalization and evaluation: The case of Indian agricultural research. Knowledge, Technology, and Policy. Volume 11, Number 4 pp. 69–96
  23. ^ UNESCO, UNITWIN, Chairs Programme, Directory, India, 104 AEN, UNESCO-Cousteau Ecotechnie Chair/The Asian Ecotechnology Network, 1996, p.463.[5]
  24. ^ National Commission on Farmers, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 28 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ MSSRF, Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre, 2005. mssrf.org
  26. ^ Alberts, Bruce, president – National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., "The M. S. Swaminathan I know", Current Science, vol. 89, NO. 2, 25 August 2005,[6]
  27. ^ Leadership Council members from the website of the Compact 2025 partnership. Compact2025.org (17 July 2015). Retrieved on 2016-06-29.

External linksEdit