When the international edition of Time magazine named Indian agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan (born 1925) as one of the 100 most influential Asians of the twentieth century, many readers wondered who Swaminathan was.
While less well known than the other Indians on Time 's list, such as poet Rabindranath Tagore and nonviolence advocate Mohandas K. Gandhi, Swaminathan may have touched the lives of impoverished Indians more directly than those other historical figures.
As the originator of the so-called Green Revolution, Swaminathan set in motion fundamental changes in agricultural production in India that have put an end to India's age-old status as a nation on the brink of starvation.
Since first implemented by Swaminathan in the 1960s, the Green Revolution has rippled across Asia, setting the economies of country after country on a firm footing and laying the foundation for the spectacular economic growth in much of the region by the end of the twentieth century.
The Indian geneticist did not settle into a comfortable career after making his groundbreaking discoveries, however.
Instead, Swaminathan has remained vitally involved with food and agricultural issues, holding a series of high-profile posts both inside and outside India.
Well past retirement age, he remained an important voice speaking out on issues such as pesticide use and experimentation with genetically modified organisms, or GMO's. Throughout his career, he not only carried out research, but also worked to find ways to share the results of that research with ordinary farmers.
To be continued ...