Detailed info...


• 2015

Pages: 228

ISBN: 9789332701861


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MS Swaminathan in Conversation with Nitya Rao

From Reflections on my Life to the Ethics and Politics of Science

Nitya Rao (Ed.)


This book consists of two parts, written at different times and with different purposes. They are not sequential, yet belong together. The first tells the story of the life of M.S. Swaminathan, and his dream of securing human dignity through food sovereignty in India, and the second reflects on the implications and nuances of the story.

The first part of the book is more biographical in nature; a large number of experiences throughout his life are discussed, not necessarily in chronological order. Part two, however, is more reflective in nature, and concerned with issues which had to be confronted in the course of his career. In this part, he reflects on how politics has influenced and shaped the course of agricultural  development; and how different ethical stances, often in conflict, have come into play. This is not just a historical account, but equally valid in present times.

Praise for this book

This splendid gift, where I fully recognize the luminous voice of Dr. Swaminathan.
— Guy Sorman, Eminent writer on development 
and economics; formerly adviser to President Mitterand of France

Your conversations with your daughter highlighted for me one thing
that we seem to have lost sight of and that is the importance of wisdom. 
— Dr. Maryam Rahmanian, Iranian environmentalist
and Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security

I was so taken by the book that I read it in one evening—
a historical document of great value for all. 
— Prof. Louise Fresco, President, Wageningen Agricultural University,
The Netherlands

A great achievement at both academic and grassroots levels, written,
at the same time, with great modesty—a wonderful guideline for anybody 
in public life.
— Nanditha Krishna, Historian, writer and environmentalist, Chennai, India

Empathy has been the moving force behind these seemingly effortless achievements
to help the downtrodden. 
— Dr. Virendra Kumar, Professor of Botany, 
University of Delhi

A beacon of light and hope in the complex and threatened  eco-system in which we all live today. 
— Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Former Member, Planning Commission,
Government of India

A gripping read, the book goes far beyond Swaminathan’s well-known contributions to
agricultural research, including, for example, the development of public policy to
recognize the contributions of tribal and rural communities to conservation of agro-biodiversity. 
— Dr. V.L. Chopra, Former Director General, Indian Council of Agriculture Research, New Delhi

Every time I came to look at your personality,
a new dimension revealed itself.  
— Dr. T. Ramasami, Former Secretary, Department of Science & Technology,
Government of India

About the Author(s) / Editor(s)

Currently Professor, Gender and Development, at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Nitya Rao has close to 30 years experience as a field-level practitioner, trainer, researcher and teacher.

She has been concerned with developing strategies for women’s empowerment, social equity and livelihood security through education, decent work and land and resource rights. Bringing a gender analytical perspective to all her work, she has more recently been researching issues of migration, intra-household resource allocations, nutrition, adaptation to climate risks and unpacking the processes of feminist mobilisation and claims-making leading to policy change. Her book entitled Good Women Do Not Inherit Land: Politics of Land and Gender in India was published in 2008, with a second paperback edition in 2012.

Nitya is the youngest daughter of MS and Mina Swaminathan.

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