Swaminathan was born 1925, in Kumabakonom, located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
His parents were both prominent citizens : his mother was a member of an influential south Indian family, and his father, a surgeon, was a follower of Gandhi.
The young Swaminathan grew up exposed to the possibility of society-wide change in India as he observed Gandhi's successful series of protests against British rule and his exhortations for Indians to seize control of their own economic destiny by, for example, boycotting foreign textiles.
Grimmer events also shaped Swaminathan's developing world view during his youth : a deadly famine that struck India's Bengal region in 1942 and 1943 made him resolve to work to end hunger in his homeland.
Famine Inspired Switch to Agriculture :
Swaminathan attended the Roman Catholic Little Flower High School in Kumbakonom, and he was admitted to Travancore (now Kerala) University after graduating at age 15.
At first he studied zoology, earning a degree in two years.
Then, affected by the Bengali famine and by his observations of the problems of small farmers he had met on family vacations around southern India, he switched to the study of agriculture and enrolled at the University of Madras.
He finished a second bachelor's degree there in 1947 and went on to do graduate work at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).
To be continued ...