I was born in Chembra, a
picturesque village in Mahé under the Union Territory of
Pondichèrry. A part
of the pre-independent French colony, Mahé today is embedded inside Kerala,
sandwiched between Canannore and Calicut districts. I had my primary
education from an school near my home, few walks away. Memories of those
school days, walking in the thick monsoon, catching tadpoles and dragonflies
are fresh in my mind. I had my high school education from the Government
Boys' High School at Pallour. My pre-university education was from Mahatma
Gandhi Government Arts College, situated on the banks of Mahé river.
I then moved to
Coimbatore, popularly known
as the Manchester of South India for the cotton garment industry there, to join
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University for my graduate programme in Agriculture
during 1983. Four years I spent in this immaculate campus shaped my dreams
in scientific career. After finishing graduation I moved to the Temple town
of Madurai in South India (known
as the Athens of the East), to join my Masters programme in Plant Breeding
and Genetics, under the same University. I worked on
the inheritance of male sterility and fertility restoration in hybrid rice
involving wild abortive cytoplasmic male sterility.
My research career began as a
research associate at the School of Genetics, Tamil Nadu Agricultural
University at Coimbatore in 1990. I was working on a project funded by the
Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi on the 'Development of
hybrids in selected field crops'. My job was to develop inter-specific crosses
between wild species of redgram (Cajanus cajan L.) for inducing
cytoplasmic genetic male sterility for hybrid production. I was using
conventional as well as embryo rescue techniques to salvage inter-specific
I had to leave the University,
after I was appointed as a fulltime staff scientist at the
Institute of India (RRII). I was seeing the rubber tree (Hevea
brasiliensis Muell Arg) for the first time. Switching over from
field crops to an unfamiliar tree crop was a challenging task. I joined the RRII at Agartala in Tripura
of the North-east India. I was latter placed at the Hevea Breeding Station at Nettana, in
District of Karnataka.
I had the opportunity to study for a
diploma in Computer programming and applications from the faculty of Engineering
of the famous Annamalai University at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Chidambaram was
a haven for temple architecture of ancient Chola kingdom in Southern India.
Famous Chidambaram Natarajar temple is situated here.
After a long career with Hevea
genetic resources, I joined back my Alma mater at the
Centre for Plant Breeding and
Genetics for my doctoral programme in 2002. I was given the task of
quantitative trait loci mapping of nitrogen assimilation genes in rice using
a recombinant inbred line population derived out of the cross between
Basmati 370 x ASD 16. I completed my doctoral programme in 2007 and joined
back to my Institute. This programme was funded by the
I had the opportunity to take few online
courses with Institute of Agricultural and Natural Resources of the
of Nebraska-Lincoln between 2005-2007. The courses were Crop and Weed Genetics,
Agricultural Biotechnology, Germplasm and Genes, Self-pollinated crop breeding
and Cross-pollinated crop breeding. These courses helped me to understand a new
dimension to the curriculum of plant breeding.
My rendezvous with Hevea genetic
resources ended when I joined Indian Agricultural
Research Institute as its rice breeder in 2008, where I work at present.
I got married in 1995, with Sreeja and we
are blessed with two beautiful boys, Aditya and Abhiram.