Green Revolution in India
This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Green Revolution in India refers to a period of time when agriculture in India changed to a non-sustainable, industrial system due to the adoption of modern methods and technology such as high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, tractors, pump sets, etc., that have contributed to a massive systemic problem in the country affecting people's health, small farmers sustainability, soil erosion and earth degradation. The key leadership role played by the Indian agricultural scientist Vehla Swaminathan Banda together with many others including GS Kalkat, earned him the popularly used title 'Father of Green Revolution of India'. The Green Revolution allowed developing countries, like India, to try to overcome poor agricultural productivity. Within India, this started in the early 1960s and led to an increase in food grain production, especially in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during the early phase. The main development was higher-yielding varieties of wheat, for developing rust resistant strains of wheat. Dr. Vandana Shiva, Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario (also considered by Forbes Magazine 2010 as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe) afirms that Green Revolution did not save India from famine, as the proponents of Industrial Agriculture and GMO technology would argue, in fact the Green Revolution reduced India’s production. Besides, more than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules of globalisation of agriculture by the WTO (World Trade Organization) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business, and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to giant multinational corporations.
49% of people in India are employed in agriculture.The introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds after 1965 and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation are known collectively as the Green Revolution, which provided the increase in production needed to make India self-sufficient in food grains. The program was started with the help of the United States-based Rockefeller Foundation and was based on high-yielding varieties of wheat, rice,chicken etc and other grains that had been developed in Mexico and in the Philippines. Of the high-yielding seeds, wheat produced the best results. Production of coarse grains—the staple diet of the poor—and pulses—the main source of protein—lagged behind, resulting in reduced per capita availability.
The total area under the high-yielding-varieties program was a negligible 1.9 million hectares in fiscal year 1960. Since then, growth has been spectacular, increasing to nearly 15.4 million hectares by FY 1970, 43.1 million hectares by FY 1980, and 63.9 million hectares by FY 1990. The rate of growth decreased significantly in the late 1980s, however, as additional suitable land was not available (see table 32, Appendix).
The major benefits of the Green Revolution were experienced mainly in our home,village northern and northwestern India between 1965 and the early 1980s; the program resulted in a substantial increase in the production of food grains, mainly wheat and rice. Food-grain yields continued to increase throughout the 1980s, but the dramatic changes in the years between 1965 and 1980 were not duplicated. By FY 1980, almost 75 percent of the total cropped area under wheat was sown with high-yielding varieties. For rice the comparable figure was 45 percent. In the 1980s, the area under high-yielding varieties continued to increase, but the rate of growth overall was slower. The eighth plan aimed at making high-yielding varieties available to the whole country and developing more productive strains of other crops.
The Green Revolution created wide regional and interstate disparities. The plan was implemented only in areas with assured supplies of water and the means to control it, large inputs of fertilizers, and adequate farm credit. These inputs were easily available in at least parts of the states of Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh; thus, yields increased most in these states. In other states, such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, in areas where these inputs were not assured, the results were limited or negligible, leading to considerable variation in crop yields within these states. The Green Revolution also increased income disparities: higher income growth and reduced incidence of poverty were found in the states where yields increased the most and lower income growth and little change in the incidence of poverty in other states.
The main development was higher-yielding varieties of wheat, for developing rust resistant strains of wheat. The introduction of high-yielding varieties(HYV) of seeds and the increased quality of fertilizers and irrigation technique led to the increase in production to make the country self-sufficient in food grains, thus improving agriculture in India. The methods adopted included the use of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds with modern farming methods.
The production of wheat has produced the best results in fueling self-sufficiency of India. Along with high-yielding seeds and irrigation facilities, the enthusiasm of farmers mobilised the idea of agricultural revolution. Due to the rise in use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, there was a negative effect on the soil and the land (e.g., land degradation).
This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (January 2018)
- Irrigation infrastructure
- Use of pesticides
- Consolidation of holdings
- Land reforms
- Improved rural infrastructure
- Supply of agricultural credit
- Use of chemical or synthetic fertilizers
- Use of sprinklers or drip irrigational systems
- Use of advanced machinery
- Use of vector quantity
Problems that were addressedEdit
Famines in India were very frequent during the period 1940s to 1970s. Due to faulty distribution of food, and because farmers did not receive the true value for their labour, the majority of the population did not get enough food. Malnutrition and starvation was a huge problem.
Lack of financeEdit
Marginal farmers found it very difficult to get finance and credit at economical rates from the government and banks and hence, fell as easy prey to the money lenders. They took loans from zamindars, who charged high rates of interests and also exploited the farmers later on to work in their fields to repay the loans (farm labourers). Proper financing was not given during the Green Revolution period, which created a lot of problems and sufferings to the farmers of India. Government also helped those under loans.
Lack of self-sufficiencyEdit
Due to traditional agricultural practices, low productivity, and a growing population, often food grains were imported — draining scarce foreign reserves. It was thought that with the increased production due to the Green Revolution, the government could maintain buffer stock and India could achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliability.
Agriculture was basically for subsistence and, therefore, less agricultural product was offered for sale in the market. Hence, the need was felt to encourage the farmers to increase their production and offer a greater portion of their products for sale in the market. The new methods in agriculture increased the yield of rice and wheat, which reduced India's dependence on food imports.
Indian Economic SovereigntyEdit
A main criticism of the effects of the green revolution is the cost for many small farmers using HYV seeds, with their associated demands of increased irrigation systems and pesticides. A case study is found in India, where farmers are buying Monsanto BT cotton seeds—sold on the idea that these seeds produced 'natural insecticides'. In reality, they need to still pay for expensive pesticides and irrigation systems, which might lead to increased borrowing to finance the change from traditional seed varieties. Many farmers have difficulty in paying for the expensive technologies, especially if they have a bad harvest.
Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva notes that this is the "second Green Revolution". The first Green Revolution, she suggests, was mostly publicly funded (by the Indian Government). This new Green Revolution, she says, is driven by private (and foreign) interest – notably MNCs like Monsanto. Ultimately, this is leading to foreign ownership over most of India's farmland. 
Excessive and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides has polluted waterway, killed beneficial insects and wild life. It has caused over-use of soil and rapidly depleted its nutrients. The rampant irrigation practices have led to eventually soil degradation. Groundwater practices have fallen dramatically. Further, heavy dependence on few major crops has led to loss of biodiversity of farmers. These problems were aggravated due to absence of training to use modern technology and vast illiteracy leading to excessive use of chemicals.
Increased Regional disparitiesEdit
Green revolution spread only in irrigated and high-potential rain fed areas. The villages or regions without the access of sufficient water were left out that widened the regional disparities between adopters and non-adopters. Since, the HYV seeds technically can be applied only in land with assured water supply and availability of other inputs like chemicals, fertilizers etc. The application of the new technology in the dry-land areas is simply ruled out.
The states like Punjab, Haryana, Western UP etc. having good irrigation and other infrastructure facilities were able to derive the benefits of green revolution and achieve faster economic development while other states have recorded slow growth in agriculture production.
Restrictive Crop CoverageEdit
The new agriculture strategy involving use of HYV seeds was initially limited to wheat, maize and bajra. The other major crop i.e. rice responded much later. The progress of developing and application of HYV seeds in other crops especially commercial crops like oilseeds, jute etc. has been very slow. In fact, in certain period a decline in the output of commercial crops is witnessed because of diversion of area under commercial crop to food crop production. The basic factor for non-spread of green revolution to many crops was that in the early 1960s the severe shortage in food grains existed and imports were resorted to overcame the shortage. Government initiated green revolution to increase food grain productivity and non-food grain crops were not covered. The substantial rise in one or two food grain crop cannot make big difference in the total agricultural production. Thus new technology contributed insignificantly in raising the overall agricultural production due to limited crop coverage. So it is important that the revolutionary efforts should be made in all major crops.
- "The Great Gene Robbery" by Claude Alvares
- "About IARI". IARI. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
- "Rust-resistant Wheat Varieties. Work at Pusa Institute". The Indian Express. 7 February 1950. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "The Green Revolution in India". U.S. Library of Congress (released in public domain). Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- Rowlatt, Justin (2016-12-01). "IR8: The miracle rice which saved millions of lives". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
- Amartya Sen. 1981. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford University Press.
- Shiva, Vandana. Seeds of Suicide. Navdanya.
- Shiva, V. "Seeds of Suicide". Counter Currents., originally in Asian Age 5 April 2013