The Father of the Rice Revolution and current holder of the UNESCO chair in Eco-Technology

Prof. M. S. Swaminathan

Delivering the 4th Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture on Media, Hunger & the Environments at India International Center on August 11, 1999. Prof. Swaminathan said first there was a need to force the Central and State Governments to initiate a special programme for eliminating maternal and foetal malnutrition to ensure that hunger-induced incidence of low birth weight children did not occur in the new century.

Expressing surprise that an active press was much less effective in moving governments to act decisively against the enademic under-nutrition and deprivation which today affected nearly nearly 300 million people. The media also had not been effective in generating the necessary political and public action to prevent intra-family inequalities in health care, medicine and nutrition resulting in excess female mortality rates.

Talking about the role of media in environmental protection, Prof. Swaminathan said the issues now found regular space in the media. In fact, the media and the judiciary have become the primary guardians of the ecological security of the country, he said public interest litigation has become a powerful tool for fighting eco-destruction.

Stressing the need for a sustained compaign now to protect environmental assets at the micro level, Prof. Swaminathan said regulation through legislation, education through the mass media and social mobilisation through grass-root democratic and voluntary institutions were all essential for the conversation and enhancement of natural resources.

Environmental health, he said, was the foundation for sustained economic progress and the security of work opportunities. India has the opportunity for demonstrating the pathway to a sustainable and humanistic civilisation tooted in the principles of ecology, gender and social equity.

“We should neither worship nor discard technologies because they are old or new. What is important is to use knowledge and skills in a manner that children can be born for happiness and not just existence,”