The mythological Kurukshetra war was fought between Kauravas and Pandavas for the tenets of justice and it was eventually won by the latter, signifying the triumph of truth. Since Independence India has been fighting for food self sufficiency to ensure freedom from hunger to all its citizens. In a sense this was also a war, though not literally with soldiers and horses but through innovation and technology development in food production, conservation and processing. While the green revolution was able to raise food production to new heights, meeting indigenous needs till recently, appropriate post harvest technological developments achieved break throughs in waste reduction, quality improvements, value addition and diversification of products to meet the palates of the population.
There are thousands of foot soldiers, captains, commanders and generals in this 'food war' as there were in the Kurukshetra war of yester years and the country owes them eternal gratitude for their 'sacrifice'. If one is o pick up the pancha pandavas in this war, the exercise is bound be controversial. In the India of to day, awards and recognition are actively or subtly sought in stead of being conferred, whether it is national, state level or private sponsored ones. Probably such a situation may exist in other countries and at international levels also. But in the current exercise, an attempt is made only to remember a few stalwarts, some even alive to day and others part of history.
The pancha pandavas who were responsible for what this country was able to achieve in the food front to day include late Dr V Subrahmanian, Dr H A B Parpia, Dr M Swaminathan, late Dr A N Bose and Prof D V Rege. The occasion to remember them is the completion of the golden jubilee by AFST(I), founded by late V Subrahmanian to invigorate the scientific fraternity engaged in food research and development in the nascent India during late fifties through collective thinking and action. These five highly respected scienists contributed directly as well as through inspiration a sound base for fundamental research in food production, development of technology for conservation and processing and human resources development for R & D and manufacturing industry.
No praise is too high for Dr Swaminathan who led the green revolution with a dedicated band of agriculture scientists leading to a quantum jump in production of cereals like rice and wheat. A living legend to day he is the symbol of what dedication, perseverance and commitment can achieve even in a poor country like India. Late Dr V Subrahmanian, the founder Director of CFTRI can be rightly considered as the father of food technology in India and built a core group of developmental scientists to develop indigenous technology for many crucial products like infant food and establish a credible infrastructure for food R & D of contemporary standard. Dr Parpia, who succeeded Dr Subrahmanian as the second Director of CFTRI, was instrumental in expanding the scope and reach of Indian food research far and wide. Country should be thankful to him for making the R & D assume a critical mass and massive infusion of technology into the food industry. The international food technology training center established with FAO collaboration under his regime, gave India a global status and hundreds of food technologists from India to day man important positions in many countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Prof A N Bose, the pioneering fish technologist gave new orientation to fish foods related technology through his leadership in Fisheries Technology Institute at Kochi, besides giving impetus to training in the east as vice chancellor of Jadavpur University.