In the backdrop of the food crisis that gripped India in the 1960s and 1970s, the Government of India initiated the ‘Green Revolution’ program. Economist Alok Ghosh defines the ‘Green Revolution as a revolution both in the quantum of agricultural input and output. It was an attempt to become self-sufficient in production of food grains. The Government made a package deal consisting of high yielding varieties of seeds, water management, pest control and fertilizer application at the optimum level in addition too sufficient credit facilities.
To disseminate information Krishi Vigyan Kendras, model farms and district block development offices were instituted. Seed farms were developed. To augment research the Indian Council for Agricultural Research [ICAR] was reorganized. As the new variety was chemicals and fertilizer intensive, new industrial units were licensed. To encourage two crops a year and monsoon-independence, irrigation canals and deep water wells were created. Policy was changed to assure guaranteed prices and markets. Food stock storages were created. The results were not long to come.
Land under active cultivation began to grow from 1. 9 million hectares [mHa] in 1960 to 15. 5mHa 1970, 43mHa in1980 and 64mHa in 1990. The impact of the revolution was multifaceted and affected India in every way possible; be it sociological, economic or ecological. Sociological Impact (i) Personal inequalities: Due to Green Revolution the income of rich farmers increased considerably whereas the poor farmers couldn't reap any benefit. Hence in Punjab it led to concentration of wealth, income and assets with the rich farmers on the one hand and gradual pauperization of the rural poor.
This led to a class conflict between the rich and the poor farmers. The small and marginal farmers were deprived of enjoying the gains of new technology. (ii) Regional Inequality: The new technology was successfully implemented in the wheat-producing belt of the country whereas the rice producing zones were not at all affected by this Green Revolution. Hence the disparity between the two regions increased considerably. Further, Green Revolution became successful in irrigated areas whereas in the rained belt the new technology couldn't be properly implemented.
Economic Impact i) Increase in agricultural production and productivity: Due to adoption of HYV technology the production of food grains increased considerably in the country. The production of wheat has increased from 8. 8 million tones in 1965-66 to 184 million tones in 1991-92. The productivity of other food grains has increased considerably. It was 71% in case of cereals, 104% for wheat and 52% for paddy over the period 1965-66 and 1989-90. The index number of productivity on agriculture (Base -1969 – 70) increased from 88.
9 in 1965-66 to 156 in 1991-92 indicating an increase of about 100% in productivity over the period. Though the food grain production has increased considerably but the green revolution has no impact on coarse cereals, pulses and few cash corps. In short the gains of green revolution have not been shared equally by all the crops. (ii) Employment: The new agricultural technology has created more amounts of employment opportunities in the tertiary sector and in industries related to agriculture. The new technology is early maturing and makes multiple cropping possible.
(iii) Market Orientation: The new technology has made the farmers market- oriented. Due to excess production the farmers have to go to the market for selling their surplus production. (iv) Forward and Backward Linkage: Due to new technology the demand for industrial products like fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides increased which gave rise to industrialization of the economy. Similarly due to excessive production more employments were created in the tertiary sector like transportation, marketing and storage. Ecological Impact
(i) The Myth of High Yields: The term 'high yielding varieties' is a wrong name or word, because it implies that the new seeds are high yielding of themselves but actually they are highly responsive to certain key inputs such as fertilizers and water, the new seeds perform worse than the indigenous varieties. Increasing the nitrogen uptake plants by using artificial fertilizers upsets their carbon/nitrogen balance causing metabolic problems to which the plant reacts by taking up extra water. (ii)Loss of Diversity:
Diversity is a central principle of traditional agriculture in the Punjab, and in the rest of India, such diversity contributed to ecological stability, and hence to ecosystem productivity. Since, lower diversity in an ecosystem, the higher its vulnerability to pests and disease. The Green Revolution has reduced genetic diversity at two levels. First, it replaced mixtures and rotations of crops like wheat, maize, millets, pulses and oil seeds which monocultures of wheat and rice. Second, the introduced wheat and rice varieties came from a very narrow genetic base.
On this narrow and alien genetic base the food supplies of millions are precariously perched. (iii)Increasing Pesticide use: Because of their narrow genetic base, HYVs are inherently vulnerable to major pests and disease. As the Central Rice Research Institute, in Cuttack, concludes regarding rice, the 'high yielding varieties' are susceptible to major pests with a crop loss of 30-100%. Conclusion The Green Revolution is undoubtedly a great Indian success story. It improved food security in India and was successful in compiling the 'best practices' and disseminating them widely.
It also created plenty of jobs not for industrial workers by the creation of related facilities such as factories and hydroelectric power stations. However, in spite of this, India's agricultural output sometimes falls short of demand even today. India has failed to extend the concept of high yield value seeds to all crops or all regions. In terms of crops, it remains largely confined to food grains only, not to all kinds of agricultural produce. In regional terms, only the states of Punjab and Haryana showed the best results of the Green Revolution.
The eastern plains of the River Ganges in West Bengal also showed reasonably good results. But results were less impressive in other parts of India. The Green Revolution has created some problems mainly to adverse impacts on the environment. The increasing use of agrochemical-based pest and weed control in some crops has affected the surrounding environment as well as human health. Increase in the area under irrigation has led to rise in the salinity of the land. Although high yielding varieties had their plus points, it has led to significant genetic erosion.
- Misra, Puri, “Indian Economy”, Agricultural Inputs and Green Revolution, Chapter 21, pages: 349-361.
- Datt, Sundharam, “Indian Economy”, 61th fully revised edition, Indian Agriculture: Under The Five Year Plans: The Green Revolution, Chapter 28, pages: 492-521.
- Uma Kapila , “Indian Economy since Independence”, Developments in Indian Agriculture, Chapter 11, pages: 179-191.
- Ghosh Alok, “Indian Economy It’s Nature and Problems” , Agricultural Production and Government Policy, Chapter 17, pages: 189-206