M. S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and Chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, writes:

The untimely and tragic death of Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy is a grievous loss to Indian agriculture at a time when the country needs most visionaries of his foresight and commitment to reverse the decline in farm productivity, profitability and sustainability. He was a true follower of the principle enunciated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947 that “everything else can wait but not agriculture.” Soon after he became Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in 2004, he convened a meeting to formulate measures to end the then prevailing widespread agrarian distress. This led to a major thrust in irrigation under the Jalayagnam programme and the launching of an Agriculture Technology Mission.

“Unique among political leaders”

Similarly, the first major step he took after his re-election as Chief Minister in June 2009 was to prepare a strategy to give the power and the economies of scale to farm families with small and marginal holdings through cooperative farming. He was unique among political leaders in the country in identifying the basic malady confronting agriculture, namely, inadequate attention to providing small and marginal farmers the best available technologies and services by mobilising the power of group cooperation through farmers’ cooperatives, a management tool which led to the milk revolution in the country.

Unfinished goals

The fatal journey he undertook was also to ascertain whether all their entitlements reach the rural poor. The best tribute we can pay to his life and work is to carry forward his unfinished goals, the most important of them being the dawn of a life of hope and cheer among rural families, and ending agricultural decline and agrarian distress.

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