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Chidambaram Subramaniam; Increased India Harvest

November 13, 2000

Chidambaram Subramaniam, 90, considered the father of India's "green revolution." Subramaniam was food minister in Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Cabinet in 1966 when he introduced a new wheat variety and technology to India's farmers. His innovations led to the so-called green revolution of sharply increased harvests, which ultimately allowed the nation to become self-sufficient in wheat production. India had relied heavily on wheat imports to feed its burgeoning population. Subramaniam turned the lawns around his house into experimental fields, where he grew a hardy strain of Mexican wheat that he believed would thrive in India. In 1964, he persuaded India's top politicians to embrace the production of the Mexican wheat. Within four years, the nationwide harvest had increased from 10 million to 17 million tons. "I was warned about the new breeds of pests and insects invading the country. But I went ahead by assuring the nation about the new technology," he said in 1997. "We are exporting some food now." Subramaniam was the son of a prominent landowning family in what is now Tamil Nadu and had degrees in physics and law. Lured by the independence movement of Mohandas K. Gandhi, he entered politics in the 1930s and was later elected to the national assembly. In the 1960s and '70s, he served in the lower house of Parliament and held ministerial positions in Congress Party governments. He earned India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1998. On Tuesday in Madras, India.

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