Professor M. S. Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century, alongside only two other Indians - Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. A plant geneticist by training, Prof. Swaminathan's contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have earned him widespread recognition as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement, and he has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology”. 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.
Prof. Swaminathan boasts a long and distinguished career. He served as Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (1961-72), Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Secretary to the Government of India’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79), Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture (1979-80), Acting Deputy Chairman and later Member (Science and Agriculture), Planning Commission (1980-82), and Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (1982-88). He was President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1984-90), President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (India) from 1989-96, President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (2002-07), President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1991-96 and 2005-07), and a trustee of Bibliotheca Alexandrina in its formative years.
Prof. Swaminathan has chaired several scientific and agricultural bodies, including: the UN Science Advisory Committee set up in 1980 to take follow-up action on the Vienna Plan of Action; the FAO Council (1981-85), the National Commission on Farmers (2004-06), and the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) for the World Committee on Food Security. He currently chairs the Task Force set up by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to oversee the projects undertaken in Afghanistan and Myanmar in the field of agriculture, and is the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai (Madras), India.
Prof. 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 70 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world. He has received numerous awards, including: 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, Tyler and UNEP Sasakawa Prize for Environment, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2000 and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal, the Mahatma Gandhi Prize of UNESCO in 2000, and the Lal Bahadur Sastri National Award (2007). He is the recipient of Padma Shri (1967), Padma Bhushan (1972) and Padma Vibushan (1989). During 2013, Prof. Swaminathan received the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. He was also elected at the 20th International Congress of Nutrition held at Granada, Spain, “as Living Legend of International Union of Nutrition Sciences”.