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.