Quick Links

Monday, January 20, 2014

Future belongs to nations with grains not guns

MS Swaminathan is one of the pioneers of India's Green Revolution. While most of us have only read about the Green Revolution and even fewer have actually experienced the impact, Swaminathan has lived through it. Giving up on a lucrative career in medicine, he pursued Agriculture Research and went on to become an architect of India's paradigm shift from being a grain deficit state to surplus in less than 30 years.

NDTV recently honored Swaminathan among the 25 greatest living Indians. In this recent interview several interesting points were discussed. We found the interview a grounding experience because it was a good reality check with a peek from the past. It is clear that the current, younger generation is not very interested in pursuing the agri sector and maybe rightly so with volatile agricultural returns and easier wage alternatives. However, in this interview Swaminathan reiterates the struggles faced by our predecessors to attain our current state of self-sufficiency and shares his opinion about what the future may hold.

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, 
but by the responsibility for our future.
                                                                            -  George Bernard Shaw


  1. Shri Bhaskar Save wrote an open letter to MS Swaminathan back in 2006 that has became extremely popular online.

    You, M.S. Swaminathan, are considered the 'father' of India's so-called 'Green Revolution' that flung open the floodgates of toxic 'agro' chemicals – ravaging the lands and lives of many millions of Indian farmers over the past 50 years. More than any other individual in our long history, it is you I hold responsible for the tragic condition of our soils and our debt-burdened farmers, driven to suicide in increasing numbers every year.

    As destiny would have it, you are presently the chairperson of the 'National Commission on Farmers', mandated to draft a new agricultural policy. I urge you to take this opportunity to make amends – for the sake of the children, and those yet to come.

    Read complete letter

    After Swaminathan's response, Bhaskar Save wrote a second open letter.

    Also see article on Bhaskar Save in Bhoomi Magazine.

    1. Thanks Manu. Hopefully everyone will get a chance to reach Shri Save's letter. He makes several valid assertions, some of which we have started to feel and witness at Savera Farms as well in our pursuit to reduce or eliminate chemical fertilizers.

    2. That's very encouraging, Savera Farms.

      Over time I concluded that anyone who approaches farming with an open mind, keen observation and such strong emphasis on learning, as you do, will sooner or later come to realise, not from an external source but from their own learning, that chemical farming is unsustainable and detrimental to the health of the soil, the environment and the consumers.

      If you do decide to transition to organic farming, even slowly, my best wishes.

  2. Appreciate Manu Sharma for the response as well as for the articles.

    Unless, we expose people like MS Swaminathan and the govt that supports him, there is no future for farmers in India.

  3. If people had died of starvation due to famine or our inability to produce sufficient grains, the death would have been in millions, not the hundreds that commit suicide due to debt.

    Now lets give credit where its due. Organic agriculture has not demonstrated consistent higher yields, whereas so-called "chemical" farming that makes use of common sense and modern scientific knowledge has been able to feed the billions on this planet.

    The problem with agriculture is not organic or chemical farming. The main problem is the rustic, hide-bound farmer who will not even venture to try out new and different methods that differ from his own conventional practices. Many examples abound ..... why China with less percentage of arable land produces double of India's output and even yieldwise in rice is more than twice that of India .... Chinese farmers are forward looking, Indian farmers are not ....

    MS Swaminathan is not a demon .... he is like Verghese Kurien ..... both should be given Bharat Ratnas.

  4. Every person need grains not guns. No person live without food but can live without guns. Manufacturing guns should not solve the hunger of a people so government should spend money to produce more grains for the people.