During his stint as ‘Minister for Food and Agriculture,’ Bharat Ratna Chidambaram Subramaniam, also known as the “Father of the Green Revolution,” ushered in the Indian “Green Revolution” alongside B. Sivaraman, M. S. Swaminathan, and Norman E. Borlaug. The time saw an increase in agricultural yields in India, as well as the introduction of high-yielding wheat varieties that helped the country reach grain self-sufficiency. This was made possible by Subramaniam, who is widely regarded as the political architect of India’s ‘Green Revolution,’ who encouraged farmers to use new varieties of wheat, allowing India to become self-sufficient in wheat production rather than relying on imports. The move aided the country in overcoming chronic food shortages as well as its reliance on wheat imports. He also successfully launched a new scheme to distribute subsidized hybrid seeds, herbicides, and fertilizers. During the British Raj, he took part in the Indian independence struggle and was imprisoned in the early 1940s. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly that produced the ‘Constitution of India’ after India gained independence. He also held the positions of ‘Minister of Defence’ and ‘Minister of Finance’ in the cabinet. He then became Maharashtra’s Governor. ‘Hand of Destiny,’ his autobiography, was published in 1993.
Childhood and Adolescence
Chidambaram Subramaniam was born in Senguttaipalayam, a tiny town near Pollachi in the Tamil Nadu district of Coimbatore, on January 30, 1910. Chidambara Gounder, his father, was an agriculturalist.
He attended Pollachi schools before moving to Chennai and enrolling at the ‘Presidency College,’ where he received his B.Sc. in Physics.
He went on to the ‘Madras Law College’ in Chennai, where he earned a law degree.
His uncle Swami Chidbhavananda encouraged him to build ‘Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam’ in Tiruparaithurai, Tiruchi district, which eventually spawned a slew of educational institutions across Tamil Nadu that propagated the ideas of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda.
During his undergraduate years, he and his roommates Periyasaamy Thooran, Gounder, O. V. Alagesan, Justice Palanisami, and K. S. Ramaswamy founded the ‘Vana Malar Sangam’ (Congregation of Wild Flowers) and published the magazine ‘Pithan’ from Gobichettipalayam.
During his college years, he became involved in India’s independence struggle and participated in the ‘Civil Disobedience Movement’ against British authority. Following Mohandas Gandhi’s famous twenty-four-day ‘Salt March,’ also known as the ‘Dandi March,’ which began on March 12, 1930, as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, the movement was launched.
During the ‘Second World War,’ Mohandas Gandhi began the ‘Quit India Movement,’ or ‘August Kranti,’ against colonial control in August 1942. Subramaniam was one of numerous upcoming political activists arrested by British police.
Career of Chidambaram Subramaniam
Following India’s independence, Subramaniam was elected to the ‘Constituent Assembly,’ which drafted the ‘Constitution of India.’
He was the Minister of Education, Law, and Finance for the Madras State from 1952 until 1962. He was the ‘Leader of the House’ in the ‘Madras Legislative Assembly’ during this time.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1962 and appointed Minister of Steel and Mines.
Under the then-Prime Minister of India, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri, he succeeded Swaran Singh as the new Minister for Food and Agriculture in 1964. He was in charge of the ministry till 1966, and during that time he used his considerable skills to initiate ground-breaking measures to address India’s critical food crisis.
Subramaniam chose to support Indira Gandhi and served as the interim president of the new party founded by her, the ‘Congress (I)’, in 1969, when the ‘Indian National Congress’ was on the verge of splitting.
Verghese Kurien, one of his most renowned protégés, played a key role in the ‘Indian White Revolution’ that he ushered in. Kurien became the chairman of the ‘National Dairy Development Board,’ which in 1970 started ‘Operation Flood,’ to alleviate India’s milk shortage. From a milk-deficient country, India eventually became the world’s largest milk producer. In the year 2000, Subramaniam established the ‘National Agro Foundation,’ a public charitable foundation.
He succeeded D. R. Gadgil as the new Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission on May 2, 1971. He was in charge until July 22, 1972.
He was the Minister of Finance under then-Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi from 1975 to 1977, including a period of emergency in 1976. As Finance Minister, he proposed to Indira Gandhi that the Indian rupee be devalued.
Following the emergency, he broke with Smt. Gandhi and joined the ‘Indian National Congress (Urs)’ party, which was led by Devraj Urs and Kasu Brahmananda Reddy.
From July 28, 1979, to January 14, 1980, he was the Minister of Defence under Prime Minister Charan Singh.
He was crucial in the establishment of the ‘Bharathidasan Institute of Management’ in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, in 1984, which is now one of India’s top business schools.
On February 15, 1990, he took over as Governor of Maharashtra from Kasu Brahmananda Reddy. As Governor, he convened a number of meetings with important companies, NGOs, academics, and people to discuss a variety of pressing societal concerns. Subramaniam was compelled to quit on January 9, 1993, when a newspaper reporter overheard and reported on his criticism of then-Prime Minister of India P.V. Narasimha Rao’s working style.
‘The India of My Dreams,’ ‘Some Countries I Visited Around the World,’ and ‘The New Strategy in Indian Agriculture’ are among his works.
Major Projects of Chidambaram Subramaniam
As Minister of Food and Agriculture, he was responsible for the establishment of India’s modern agricultural development program, together with two of his renowned protégés, Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan and B. Sivaraman. Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is an Indian geneticist who, after being initiated by Subramaniam, played a crucial part in India’s ‘Green Revolution.’ Subramaniam, as India’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, successfully implemented the program that led to India’s record wheat output in 1972 after receiving approval from then-Prime Minister Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri.
He was influential in the introduction of new high-yielding varieties of seeds, as well as the extensive use of fertilizers, as Minister of Food and Agriculture. He also assured that millions of farmers were aware of the scheme and its application. This aided the country in increasing cereal production and therefore reaching self-sufficiency in food grain production.
Achievements & Awards
In 1998, he received India’s highest civilian honor, the ‘Bharat Ratna.’
Personal History and Legacy
Shrimati Sakuntala was his wife. Shrimati Swathantra Sakthivel and Shrimati Aruna Ramakrishnan, two daughters, and Shri Rajashekar, a son, were born to the couple.
He died in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on November 7, 2000.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Chidambaram Subramaniam is unknown
Tamil Nadu residents affectionately referred to him as C.S.
The Indian government issued a commemorative postage stamp and a coin in his honor in 2010.