M S Swaminathan, Father of Green Revolution
Time magazine has called Prof. Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan “one of the twenty most influential Asians of the twentieth century”. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the father of economic ecology” and by Javez Perez de Cuellar, former secretary general of United Nations as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”.
Swaminathan who hails from Kuttanad in Kerala is an internationally acclaimed agricultural scientist and plant geneticist. Moreover, he is an ecologist, administrator, an educator, an advisor to the governments around the world, a social worker, and a visionary whose dream is to rid the world of hunger and poverty.
His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security. The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) founded and chaired by Swaminathan runs a series of projects with ‘sustainable development’ as the motto. In farming, he defines sustainable development as producing high yields in constancy, without associated social or ecological harm.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and medals from all over the world, including the Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership in 1971 and the Indira Gandhi prize for peace, disarmament and development in 2000.
He has received 50 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1966, Padma Bhushan in 1972 and Padma Vibhushan in 1989.
Compiled by Anila Backer
Kasturirangan, Astrophysicist Nonpareil
Dr.Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan is presently member (science) with the Planning Commission of India. For over 9 years until 2003, Dr.Kasturirangan spearheaded the Indian space programme as chairman of the Indian space research organization. Under his leadership, the programme crossed several major milestones including the successful operationalisation of India’s prestigious launch vehicles, the polar satellite launch vehicle and the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle. As an Astrophysicist, Dr.Kasturirangan’s interests include research in high energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomy as well as optical astronomy. He has made significant contributions to studies on cosmic X-ray and gamma ray sources and effect of cosmic X-rays in the lower atmosphere.
Dr.Kasturirangan has been conferred the highest civilian honors in India, Padma Shri,Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan ,‘Officer of The Legion d’honneur’ award by the President of the French Republic. He has also won several other awards including Aryabhata medal by Indian National Science Academy’s (2000). Dr.Kasturirangan was the Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at Bangalore (2004-2009) and the Honorary Professor of Physics at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmadabad and at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Research at Bangalore. He was also a Member of Rajya Sabha during 2003-2009.
Compiled by Dilruba K
M G K Menon, Policy maker Scientist
M.G.K. Menon is a renowned physicist, policy maker and one of the most prominent scientists in Kerala, who learned the beauty of the scientific method and its application to a wide spectrum of human endeavor. He had a prominent role in the development of science and technology in India during the past four decades. From his teacher H.J. Bhabha, he learned how first class research is possible in a country like India by good planning, organization and by careful selection of the area of work.
He undertook experiments with cosmic rays to explore the properties of fundamental particles and was actively involved in setting up balloon flight experiments, as well as deep underground experiments with cosmic ray neutrinos in the mines at Kolar Gold fields. His proton decay experiment was the first major experiment in the world to look for decays of the apparently stable proton, which set a limit on a proton’s lifetime to be greater than to the power of 30 years. Prof. Menon is a fellow of all the three Science Academies in India and has been president of each one of them; and also the president of Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. The nation honored him with Padma Shri in 1961, Padma Bhushan in 1968, Padma Vibhushan in 1985 and Bhatnagar Award in 1960. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in May 1970. He has won the Abdus salam Award, and is a member of the Political Academy of Sciences. The asteroid 7564 Gokumenon, a main-belt minor planet, was named in his honor in late 2008.Currently, he is working as an adviser in Indian Space Research Organization.
Compiled by Anju V Padma