|Name:||M. S. Swaminathan|
|Birth Day:||August 7, 1925|
|Birth Place:||Kumbakonam, India|
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M. S. Swaminathan was born in Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu on 7 August 1925. He was the second son of surgeon Dr. M.K. Sambasivan and Parvati Thangammal Sambasivan. Swaminathan learned from his father, "that the word 'impossible' exists mainly in our minds and that given the requisite will and effort, great tasks can be accomplished." M.K. Sambasivam, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, took the lead in Kumbakonam in "burning his foreign clothes," a symbolic act in support of the Swadeshi movement: which emphasized the use of Indian rather than foreign-made clothes, and hand-loomed rather than mill-spun cloth. The political purpose of the swadeshi movement was to free India from dependence on imports and to protect the village industry. His father led in opening the temples to Dalits, part of the temple entry movement of the Indian independence movement in Tamil Nadu, and in eradicating filariasis in Kumbakonam, an area long infected with the dreaded disease. The sense of service to one's fellow man was thus ingrained in him early.
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 wrote the Union Public Service Commission exam and qualified for the Indian Police Service.
He chose to accept the UNESCO Fellowship to continue his IARI research on potato genetics 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." His work presented a new concept of the species relationships within the tuber-bearing Solanum. His Cambridge college, Fitzwilliam, made him an Honorary Fellow in 2014.
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, the Chief scientist of World Health Organization, Dr. Madhura Swaminathan, who is a Professor of Economics at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore and Nitya Swaminathan, a Senior Lecturer in Gender Analysis and Development at the University of East Anglia. Swaminathan and Mina have 5 grandchildren, Anandi, Shreya, Kalyani, Akshay, and Madhav.
Swaminathan then accepted a post-doctoral research associateship at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Genetics to help set up a USDA potato research station. Despite his strong personal and professional satisfaction with the research work in Wisconsin, he declined the offer of a full-time faculty position, returning to India in early 1954.
On the occasion of the presentation of the First World Food Prize to Swaminathan in October 1987, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote: "Dr. Swaminathan is a living legend. His contributions to Agricultural Science have made an indelible mark on food production in India and elsewhere in the developing world. By any standards, he will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction."
Currently, M. S. Swaminathan is 96 years, 3 months and 20 days old. M. S. Swaminathan will celebrate 97th birthday on a Sunday 7th of August 2022.
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