On 9 January 2015, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, the India-born plant scientist who led wheat breeding research at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) based in Mexico for more than three decades, received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award in Gandhinagar, India. The award, presented by Honorable H.E. Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, is the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians.
India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, praised the diaspora for putting India on the global map. “The whole world admires the Indian community not due to the money but the values they live with,” he said.
The event marks the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa. Only one other Mexican citizen of Indian ancestry received the award in the past decade: Dr. Rasik Vihari Joshi, who received the award for his contributions to literature in 2013.
The Union Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh attended the event. He praised the contributions of the Indian diaspora at the award celebration, saying India is proud of them and they are an example of India’s indomitable spirit.
Last year, Dr. Rajaram received the World Food Prize for his contribution in increasing global wheat production by more than 200 million tons in the years following the Green Revolution. His improved varieties increased the yield potential of wheat by 20 to 25 percent. Today, Rajaram’s wheats are grown on some 58 million hectares worldwide.
Dr. Rajaram is renowned for his generosity in sharing his expertise to support research and the development of technologies that have improved food security in India and globally. His accomplishments include training or mentoring more than 700 scientists from dozens of developing countries. This enabled Indian farmers to grow improved wheat varieties on some 8 million hectares, including India’s most popular wheat variety, PBW 343. He also led CIMMYT efforts to apply the concept of durable resistance to rust–the most damaging wheat disease worldwide