Eminent Agricultural Scientist Dr M S Swaminathan was presented the ‘MuppavarapuVenkaiah Naidu National Award for Excellence’ for his distinguished contribution to the field of agriculture today.
The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu presented him the award during the Pongal Celebrations held at Raj Bhavan in Chennai today.
The Award instituted by the Muppavarapu Foundation was announced recently during its 10th anniversary celebrations in Hyderabad. It carries a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs and a citation.
Addressing the gathering, the Vice President describedShriSwaminathan as the “Father of the Green Revolution in India and the Doyen of Agricultural Science”. He has been playing a pioneering role in the advancement of agriculture and improving the lives of the farmers, the Vice President added.
Pointing out that the TIME magazine had described him as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, Shri Naidu appealed to young agricultural scientists to emulate his qualities and work with dedication for the uplift of farmers and to make agriculture profitable, sustainable and viable.
Conveying his heartiest Pongal wishes to the people, the Vice President said that Pongalwas the celebration of the bounty of nature. “It is the expression of profound gratitude to nature for nourishing and sustaining life”, he added.
Referring to the concerns over the degradation of environment and reckless exploitation of natural resources, he said that traditional wisdom and practices of nature conservation must become a source of inspiration and serve as a roadmap for inclusive and sustainable development.
The Vice President asked young agri-researchers to come up with out of box ideas to make agriculture profitable, sustainable and viable.
After the award ceremony, the Vice President, his spouse Smt. Ushamma and family members witnessed a cultural program along with other dignitaries on the occasion of Pongal.
Terming India as “the land of festivals”, the Vice President said that because of the cultural foundations in the country, the spirit of festivity often crosses lines of region, religion and community.
Stating that Indian festivals have acted as a strong unifying force, binding the county together through shared joy, love and brotherhood, Shri Naidu stressed the importance of taking our unique festivals to younger generations so that they were made aware of the legacy of the grand civilization they inherited.
He expressed the confidence that our festivals would reinforce the unique identity of our civilization and inspire us to build a prosperous, peaceful, unified, inclusive and beautiful world.
The Governor of Tamil Nadu, ShriBanwarilalPurohit, Governor of Telangana, Dr.TamilisaiSoundararajan, Speaker, Tamil Nadu Assembly, Dr P. Dhanpal and Ministers of Tamil Nadu Government, Shri D. Jayakumar, ShriPandiarajan and Shri P. Benjamin were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Following is the full text of the speech –
“I am delighted to be here in Chennai Raj Bhawan with all of you to celebrate Pongal.
At the outset, let me convey my heartiest Pongal wishes to each and every one of you!
Let me thank the Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu, ShriBanwarilalPurohit for his kind invitation to join this celebration.
Pongal is one of the most popular and most fervently celebrated harvest festivals of South India.
The literal meaning of Pongal is “spilling over”.
It points to the tradition of boiling rice in a pot until it starts overflowing, symbolizing a bountiful harvest, prosperity and wellbeing.
Pongal falls in mid-January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan –the northward migration of the Sun which would last for six months.
Even though Pongal was originally a festival for the farming community, today it is celebrated by all.
Pongal is the celebration of the bounty of nature. It is the expression of profound gratitude to nature for nourishing and sustaining life.
A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of the paddy. Farmers worship the sun and the earth by dutifully anointing their ploughs and sickles with sandal wood paste. It is with these consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.
Other traditions of the celebration include drawing of Kolam and cooking of delicious Pongal.
Each of the three days of Pongal is marked by different festivities.
The first day, BhogiPongal, is a day to celebrate family life and relationships. Surya Pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the worship of Surya, the Sun God by offering milk and jaggery to the deity. The third day of Pongal, Pongal, is for worship of the cattle or Mattu. The Pongal that has been offered to the Gods is fed to cattle and birds.
During the festival, people pay their tributes and respects to the departed elders in the family by cooking their favourite dishes. It is the time to remember and pay tributes to them. New clothes are offered to the needy and community lunches are also organized.
This festival beautifully captures the essence of the deep respect and reverence for nature that forms the foundation of the Indian civilization. We consider earth to be our mother and are proud of our long tradition of harmonious existence between man and nature.
This reverence for nature has been abundantly reflected in our traditional practices, religious beliefs, rituals, folklore, art and crafts and in our daily lives.
Today, when the global community is extremely worried by the degradation of the environment and the disastrous consequences of the reckless exploitation of natural resources, traditional wisdom and practices of nature conservation must become a source of inspiration and serve as a roadmap to inclusive and sustainable development.
My dear sisters and brothers,
India is known as the land of festivals.
Every month of the calendar holds one festival or the other, celebrated by different communities.
But what is unique about India is that, because of its strong cultural foundations, the spirit of festivity often crosses lines of region, religion and community.
Our festivals have acted as a strong unifying force, binding the county together through shared joy, love and brotherhood.
This will also help in taking our unique festivals to younger generations, to our children, so that they are made aware of the legacy of the grand civilization which they have inherited.
Dear sisters and brothers
I deem it an honour to present the ‘MuppavarapuVenkaiah Naidu National Award’ instituted by Muppavarapu Foundation to ShriSwaminathanGaru, the Father of the Green Revolution in India and the Doyen of Agricultural Science. He has been playing a pioneering role in the advancement of agriculture and improving the lives of the farmers.
ShriSwaminathan has been acclaimed by the TIME magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and Viswakavi, Rabindranath Tagore. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology” because of his leadership of the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture.
On this occasion, I appeal to young agricultural scientists to emulate the qualities of ShriSwaminathan and work with dedication for the uplift of farmers and to make agriculture profitable, sustainable and viable.
I am hopeful that in the time to come we will celebrate many more festivals together, as a nation.
I am confident that our festivals will reinforce the unique identity of our civilization, inspiring us to build a prosperous, peaceful, unified, inclusive and beautiful world.
Once again, let me wish each and every one of you a very happy Pongal!