Kannur (Kerala), February 9
The central government’s decision to award the Bharat Ratna to globally renowned plant geneticist and the father of the Green Revolution in India M S Swaminathan was welcomed by his daughter Soumya Swaminathan who said that while her father would have been happy with the recognition, he never worked for awards.
Former Chief Scientist and former Deputy Director General at the WHO Soumya Swaminathan said she was “proud and happy” that her father’s work has been recognised by conferring on him the highest civilian honour in the country.
At the same time, she also said that it was the farmers’ love for him that meant a lot to him.
“On behalf of the family, we are thankful and happy that our father has received the Bharat Ratna posthumously.”
Stating that her father has been recognised for his lifetime of contributions to agriculture, but more importantly to farmers’ welfare in the country and also to the welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in society, she said it was a matter of “pride and satisfaction” that her father’s whole life’s work has been “recognised by the Government of India and the Prime Minister, with the highest national award that any citizen of India can get”.
Speaking of the significance of the award for future generations, she said that the government’s decision, apart from making her father’s family, friends, students and well-wishers happy, “will also send a strong message to the youth of the country that you can use science and technology to benefit the society”.
Asked what Swaminathan’s reaction would have been if the award had come when he was still alive, she said, “I am sure that he would have also been happy if the news had come during his lifetime. But he was never somebody who worked for awards or waited for recognition.
“Lot of awards and recognition came to him, but he was motivated more by the results of what he did on the ground and the people’s love and affection,” Soumya Swaminathan said.
She said that her father always used to remember the farmers he met wherever he went in India. Farmers would meet him and convey their gratitude and love for him and that is what meant a lot to him.
While announcing the government’s decision, PM Narendra Modi said that Swaminathan made monumental contributions to the country in agriculture and farmers’ welfare. He played a pivotal role in helping India achieve self-reliance in agriculture and made outstanding efforts in modernising it, the prime minister said.
Swaminathan, who died last year on September 28 at the age of 98, is most widely known for transforming India from a drought-stricken country dependent on the United States for foodgrain imports in the 1960s to being declared self-sufficient in food production in 1971.
His efforts involved introducing high-yielding genetic varieties of rice and wheat in India and the subcontinent, alongside American agronomist Norman Borlaug. Swaminathan was awarded the first World Food prize in 1987 for his work.
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