Chennai: Sixteen years after his passing away at a ripe age of 90, Chidambaram Subramaniam, fondly known as CS, was now conferred with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for authoring India’s Green Revolution in the early 1960s.
“Authored the first and second Green Revolution of India and transformed the direction of the Indian farmlands from ‘seed to grain’ to ‘soil to market’ thus financially empowering the farmers, said the award citation presented to CS’s son S.S. Raksekar by the Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Trust in Chandigarh recently.
Rajsekar responded saying he was “pleasantly surprised” getting the invite for receiving the Award on his father’s behalf. He had reason to be happy, for, he has been irked at times at ‘others’ being credited with having authored the Green Revolution while his illustrious father’s contribution has been globally famous — US President Lyndon Johnson had reacted to the 1967 Indian elections outcome saying, “One able minister in India Mr C. Subramaniam was unfortunately defeated”. “I remember my father saying at that time that he lost the election because he was busy with the Green Revolution works and did not campaign in the constituency”, Rajsekar told this correspondent at his lovely Kotturpuram bungalow, where CS had spent most part of his Chennai (then Madras) tenure.
Recalling the events of mid-60s, he said: “When Prime Minister Shastri offered father the Agriculture Ministry — when the Ministry was known as death knell for many — Indira Gandhi had told him, ‘CS you are signing your political death warrant’, because that was the period when India was going through near famine situation and the western world had written us off and we were on a ship to mouth existence.
“CS then decided to experiment in his own backyard. Overnight the lawn behind my father’s official residence was converted into that of an agriculture field by sowing the high yielding dwarf variety wheat from Mexico. Everybody including the experts was under the impression that all crop related diseases would spread through this wheat but it was proved otherwise through this demonstration. Little did I realise then, that as a 12 year old, history was in the making in front of my eyes and that was the beginning of the Green Revolution in India”.
Rajsekar recalled how food minister C.S. had ensured that the success of high yielding varieties was visible through the policy changes, revamping of ICAR, strengthening of extension system, creation of Food Corporation of India, announcement of support prices, support to input industries and so on. “In the year 1967, he announced in the Parliament that India would become self-sufficient in five years. There was derisive laughter in disbelief from some members but CS had his last laugh. In 1971 when he became the Minister of Planning, the first resolution which was passed in the planning commission was that there is no more import of PL 480 wheat from U.S because India had become self-sufficient in food grains”, Rajsekar said.
He said during the last 20 years of his lifetime, his father realised that the first Green Revolution had only partially addressed the needs of rural India and so he came up with a road map to solve the remaining problems. So on his 90th birthday in the year 2000, he founded a public charitable trust called the National Agro Foundation “to embark on bringing about rural prosperity right across India”.