Green Revolution: Worth the popularity?

By - Divyanshi Talreja | Posted by - Mindcord

Development can only take place when all people are actively involved, when they are occupied with non-stop degree of concentration, when all are interested, when all give themselves completely, when all use their abilities to invent and make new things and when this gives them a high degree of satisfaction and pleasure. One of the great examples of development is the Green Revolution. Thanks to Dr. Norman Borlaug and Dr. MS Swaminathan who changed India's status from a food deficient country to one of the world's leading agricultural nations. Basically, Green Revolution is referred to as the process of increasing agricultural production by incorporating modern tools and techniques. The idea was first introduced by Dr. Norman Borlaug who is distinctively known as 'The Father of Green Revolution'. In India, MS Swaminathan is known as 'The Father of Green Revolution' for his role in introducing and developing high yielding varieties of wheat.

During the British Raj, India's Green Economy hinged on a unilateral relation of exploitation. Under a development program issued by International Donor Agencies and Government of India, it was first introduced in Punjab in the late 1960's. The first try failed! But success comes after failure, even in the dictionary! The second trial resulted in a great increase in the introduction of food grains, especially wheat and rice, due to introduction into developing countries of new HYV seeds.

The year 1978-79 resulted in a great output of 131 billion tons and established India as one of the world's biggest agricultural producers. We had become self-sufficient in food grains. The per capita net availability of food grains also increased dramatically. It also helped the farmers in raising their level of income. The big farmers were major beneficiaries of the Green Revolution by investing large amounts of money in various inputs like HYV seeds, fertilizers, machines and more. The most important benefit was that it promoted capitalist farming and was a step towards equal income and equal distribution of resources to all sectors. It brought about large scale farm mechanization which created demand for different types of machines like tractors, harvesters, threshers and combines. Demand for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and weedicides also increased. Several agricultural products were also used as raw materials which led to the birth of agro-based industries. There was an appreciable increase in the demand for labor force due to multiple cropping and use of fertilizers. It created plenty of jobs not only for agricultural workers but also for industrial workers. Overall the green Revolution was a major achievement for many developing countries, specially India and gave them an unprecedented level of national food security.

Reality check : Something is wrong 

We know that there are two sides of the same coin. This also had a second side: the negative impact. In Punjab and to some extent in Haryana it could create employment facilities but what about the agricultural laborers in rural areas? It also had health hazards because of the the large scale use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in a number of critical health illness including cancer, renal failure, stillborn babies and birth defects. It had a negative effect on soil and crop production. The pH level of soil increased due to the increasing usage of chemicals. The chemicals also destroyed the beneficial pathogens which further led to decline in the yield. Another major problem was that the crops grown with modern techniques of the Green Revolution were water intensive. To overcome this problem canal systems and irrigation pumps were introduced, which led to depletion in the groundwater levels. Non- food grains were left out and the revolution was only restricted to five major crops: wheat, rice, jowar, bajra and maize.

Evergreen Revolution: Does it stand up to the idea of sustainable development? However, lesser heed was paid to factors other than ensuring food security such as the environment. So the need for the 'Evergreen Revolution' was called out by Dr. MS Swaminathan. Under this program, it was envisaged that productivity must increase, but in ways which are eco-friendly, economically viable and socially sustainable. The Government of India introduced many schemes under Green Revolution 'Krishonnati Yojana' in 2005 to boost the agricultural sector. As a way forward the policy makers must target the poor more precisely and ensure that there are safer and greater direct benefits from new technologies and those technologies will also need to be more environmentally sustainable. Also taking lessons from the past it must be ensured that such initiatives include all of the beneficiaries covering all the regions rather than sticking to a limited field. No doubt that the revolution increased and developed the Indian economy. But a big question arises: Does it stand up to the idea of sustainable development?

Written By - Divyanshi Talreja
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