Obituary: Binay Ranjan Sen

Binay Ranjan Sen, diplomat and civil servant: born Dibrugarh, Assam 1 January 1898; Director General, UN FAO 1956-67; died Calcutta 12 June 1993.

BINAY RANJAN SEN, the former Indian diplomat and the first Asian to head the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, the FAO, worked successfully towards eradicating global hunger and want. A member of the 'heaven-born' Indian Civil Service, the ICS, he was also Indian Ambassador to Rome, the former Yugoslavia, the United States and Japan.

But it was as Director General of the FAO, a post he held from 1956 for a record 12 years, that Sen established himself as an internationally respected bureaucrat. He transformed the FAO from an organisation limited to collating data on food and agriculture to one committed to eradicating hunger around the world. Such was his success that though, by fiat, the FAO Director General's term was limited to a maximum of eight years, a special provision exempted Sen.

Scarred by the horrific famine he saw in his native Bengal province in eastern India in 1943, Sen believed one man's hunger and want is every man's hunger and want. He worked tirelessly to focus world attention on food shortages in newly emerging decolonised nations.

In 1958 he launched a world-wide drive to encourage farmers to use improved varieties of seed for increased production and soon after merged this with the freedom-from-hunger campaign. Two years later, having caught the world's imagination and support, he convened a special meeting in Rome, attended by numerous world leaders including 11 Nobel laureates, on man's right to freedom from hunger. This was followed up a few months later with the first World Food Congress in Washington, which succeeded in arousing the conscience of the world, firmly placing Sen's goal of alleviating hunger high on the international agenda.

Sen was born in Dibrugarh in Assam state, north-east India, in 1898. He graduated from Calcutta and Oxford before joining the Indian Civil Service in the mid-Thirties. One of his first postings was as district magistrate in Midnapore, Bengal, in 1937, after three successive British ICS officers had been murdered by revolutionaries demanding independence.

During the Bengal famine in 1943 in which millions died, Sen was appointed Food Secretary in New Delhi and after a series of senior postings, including Food and Agricultural Secretary, he was seconded to the diplomatic corps as Minister in the newly opened Indian embassy in Washington in 1947. Thereafter he was ambassador to Rome and the former Yugoslavia twice, the United States and Mexico and Japan.

In 1956 Sen was elected director- general of the FAO and during his period in office completely transformed its role, increasing its budget by almost 350 per cent and expanding its technical assistance programme. It is ironic, however, that Sen's candidature as head of FAO was recommended not by the India government but by developed countries. After retiring in 1967, Sen returned home to Calcutta and busied himself with social work.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor