The Award Function
The Dr M S Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection 2022 was held on Monday 8th August 2022, on the eve of the 97th Birthday of the father of Green Revolution, Dr M S Swaminathan. The venue, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation was lush and lovely, and was a fitting contrast of serenity and calm against the excitement and fervour of those present.
The Chief Guest was the Hon’ble Governor of Tamilnadu Thiru R N Ravi and the Awardee was Dr K Keshavulu, President, International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) , Zurich , Switzerland and Managing Director, Telengana State Seed Organisation.
The event commenced at sharp 6:00 pm with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and Tamil Thai Vazthu sung by the students of Little Flower School and was followed by a crisp and celebratory welcome address by the President, Rtn. Ramakumar.
In his Introduction of the award, Rtn.Nachiappan, gave an overview of the two decade old history of this award as also the illustrious past recipients of this award. Rtn.Revathi, the Award Chairperson, then introduced Dr K Keshavulu to the audience.
The citation was eloquent and effervescent and was penned and read out by Rtn Sudarshan. It was a tribute fitting of the man, Dr.Keshavulu for his stellar role in bringing food security to our country through Seed management. The citation was conferred on Dr Keshavulu by the Governor Thiru Ravi amidst thunderous applause.
Not often do we come across a man, who takes his background, amplifies it with knowledge and hard work, and returns it to his background, to benefit the nation as a whole. Dr K Keshavulu is a humble man, difficult to imagine given his proficiency on the seed industry. Dr. Keshavulu completed his graduation in Agricultural Science in 1994, and post-graduation in Seed Science and Technology in 1996. His PhD was a specialisation in Seed Science and Technology from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in 2006 and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Research from the University of California, Davis, USA, where he also worked on advanced genetic and molecular basis of seed dormancy, germination and seed quality and worked as a strategic member partner for United States Agency for International Development.
Dr. Keshavulu is a farmer-centric scientist. He has organised training programs for farmers by involving national and international experts that have helped the farmers adopt better technologies/practices, and improved their skills in quality seed production.
His contributions to the seed industry through various national and international capacity-building programmes, international cooperation, network building, policy advice, regulatory frameworks to name a few, have improved the expertise among the seed professionals of both public and private industries. He is instrumental in increasing the quality consciousness and quality control system in the Country. Millions of farmers now have access to quality seeds which has led to increased productivity and the nation’s food security.
Under his strategic leadership and scientific vision, about 20 lakh quintals of seeds of different crops have been certified by TSSCA annually and about 5 lakh quintals of seeds are being produced and distributed by Seeds Development Corporation every year, benefiting about 25 lakh farmers across the country.
He has motivated several hundreds of organic farmers and traders through organic certification and regular outreach programmes, thereby contributing to the growth of sustainable agriculture, environmental protection and promoting the concept of a healthy society for a wealthy nation.
Dr Keshavulu, in his acceptance acknowledged that he was proud to receive the award named after such an illustrious scientist as Dr M S Swaminathan. He spoke at length about the need for a robust seed management infrastructure as the back bone of food security especially in a country like India which has billions that need to be fed. His passion for the seed industry shone bright in his speech and the audience was enthralled at the intricacies within the seed industry.
The Governor’s Effusions
The Hon’ble Governor in his address, spoke from his heart about the food situation in India, commencing from Independence when food scarcity was at its peak to the current scenario when food is being exported to many countries by India. His talk was educational, enamouring and emotional, for he mentioned how India was being oppressed by the colonizers, who were collecting more in taxes than what the farmers would earn. He described with great distress, the fact that the farmers would be forced to produce certain non-food crops such as fibres and opium and adopt extremely unsustainable forms of cultivation. Naturally, food scarcity was at its peak and despite good production capacity and willingness to produce, the Indian subcontinent suffered at the hands of the colonizers.
Shift ahead 75 years, and India is in a position to export to other countries! We not only adequately feed ourselves, we are able to feed the rest of the world too. This massive difference, he attributes, not only to the change in policies but also to Scientists like Dr M.S. Swaminathan and Dr Keshavulu who have made this possible by their world class research and hardwork. Politics plays a role in agri produce was the clinching message he put across.
Rtn Babu Krishnamoorthy delivered the vote of thanks, after which a national anthem was played to signal the end of the award ceremony. Another elegant award ceremony was delivered by RCME , adding yet another feather to the cap.
Rtn. Babu Krishnamoorthy