How a famine in Bengal turned noted agriculturist professor MS Swaminathan away from studying medicine is little known. But, it's a fact that he decided to shift to studying food genetics while pursuing medicine at Maharaja's College in Trivandrum.
Dr Swaminathan shared this during his address to scientists and doctors at Christian Medical College and Hospital here on Thursday.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Dr Swaminathan, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, said: "My aim is to steer India to sustainable development, using environmentally-sustainable agriculture, sustainable food security and preservation of biodiversity which can rightly be termed as an evergreen revolution."
Referring to the National Food Security Bill, which is likely to become an Act by the end of this year, the scientist said: "Right to food will no more be purely patronage, but a legal right which will hold the government accountable."
Post Harvest Management Board at the national level should frame policies and programmes dealing with the predicaments faced by the farmers, but it should not become another defunct body controlled by bureaucracy, suggested professor Swaminathan.
Diversification, according to the scientist, is an issue to be taken seriously as the farmers are unable to get MSP for pulses, maize, fruits and vegetables.
Accredited for being the first World Food Prize winner, conferred by United Nations in 1987, this Padamshree and Padam Vubhushan awardee emphasized on the importance of soil health and water conservation.
Later, addressing the doctors present at the lecture, professor Swaminathan said time has come for India to adopt an approach of agricultural remedy for every health malady.
"The broader perspectives of this approach will be discussed at the biodiversity summit scheduled to be held in Hyderabad in the last quarter of this year, which would be attended by 15,000 experts from across the world," professor Swaminathan said.
In another interesting observation, the scientist referred to the need for plantation of mangroves along the shoreline, which he said act as a "bio-shield" against natural calamities like tsunami. "The impact of 2004 tsunami was less in the mangrove areas of Tamil Nadu and Orissa," he pointed out.
Professor Swaminathan also presented his latest book "Remember Your Humanity: Pathway to Sustainable Food Security", to former vice-chancellor of PAU Dr MS Kang. The book is yet to be released.