Chennai, August 23, 2016: What connects the five ecosystems of Sangam literature and a scientific laboratory? How do sacred grove themes find their way into Chennai? These and other such interesting nuggets of information were part of the Walk through Campus organized by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation as part of Madras Week celebrations.
The theme of the walk was ‘Link Science and Society’. Chennai was chosen for MSSRF’s headquarters after Prof M S Swaminathan decided to set it up in 1987. The themes of conservation and sustainable development were reflected in the very construction of the building and these were described during the campus walk held here on Tuesday.
Prof P C Kesavan, Distinguished Fellow, MSSRF set the stage for the walk by introducing the vision of fighting hunger and malnutrition with which MSSRF was set up. The efforts for sustainable and environmentally friendly development were reflected from the very building it was housed in.
Dr. S Rajalakshmi, Principal Coordinator, Plant Molecular Biotechnology Lab at MSSRF, introduced the campus layout to the visitors, based on the ecosystems kurunchi, mullai, marutham, neytal and palai (mountain, forest, crop area, coast and the desert). A “Touch and Smell garden”, for the blind, so they could feel or smell the plants with information written in Tamil Braille formed the next part of the walk.
There’s a sacred grove model on campus, with traditionally protected trees from different ecosystems and temples to reflect conservation. The walk also took participants through the greenhouse, to the plants being tested for abiotic stress and to the Microbiology lab as part of the scientific leg. Walkers got an idea of biological software, resources for agriculture. Participants were also treated to a walk through a repository of over 20,000 unique volumes related to science and development at the MSSRF library.
From conservation, to science, to interaction, the walk ended with a perspective from Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF, who shared how there was careful thought going into each aspect of the Foundation, from solar panels to the ecosystem garden, buildings shaped like part of a double helix model and ‘panchabhootam’ made by women SHG members. Taking off from Mahatma Gandhi’s words ‘My life is a message’, Prof Swaminathan wrapped up the event with the words, “Here, the building is the message, the message we wanted to convey of being ecologically sensitive and environmentally friendly.” Students, researchers and members of the public attended the programme.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.