by Dan Gardner, Postmedia News
When I hand the worn and faded book to the old man, he smiles. He remembers it well.
He is professor Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan. Little-known in this country, Swaminathan, 85, is a legend in Asia. He is the scientist who brought the Green Revolution to India in the 1960s and in doing so he likely saved tens of millions of people from starving to death. Maybe hundreds of millions. He may even have saved India itself.
The book in his hands is Famine 1975! It was a hugely influential best-seller in 1967. “This is Paul and William Paddock,” Swaminathan grins. The Paddocks argued that mass global famine was inevitable. It was “foredoomed,” as they put it. Efforts to avoid it — efforts like Swaminathan’s — would fail. “They said Indians, and others, were like sheep going to the slaughterhouse. They’ll all die.”