UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS
Paper 2 – Part C – Social Changes in India; Chapter 2 – Rural and Agrarian transformation in India: Green revolution and social change.
ABOUT GREEN REVOLUTION
- The term ‘Green Revolution’ refers to the new agricultural technology developed during the 1950s and 1960s by a team of agricultural experts at the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement in Mexico and at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Philippines.
- Green revolution refers to a process that increases the production of food grains using the high-yielding varieties, fertilizers, pesticides, and modern equipment and technology.
- Norman Borlaug in Mexico developed high-yielding varieties of wheat that were resistant to diseases like rust. It increased wheat production by three times within three years.
- Green revolution in India refers to a period when agriculture production was increased tremendously using high-yielding varieties and modern tools and techniques such as tractors, pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation facilities, etc.
- India launched Green Revolution in India in 1965 under the leadership of the Lal Bahadur Shastri and with the help of M.S. Swaminathan.
IMPACT OF GREEN REVOLUTION
- The Green Revolution resulted in a record grain output of 131 million tonnes in 1978/79. This established India as one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers.
- Yield per unit of farmland improved by more than 30% between1947 (when India gained political independence) and 1979. The crop area under high yielding varieties of wheat and rice grew considerably during the Green Revolution.
- The Green Revolution also created plenty of jobs not only for agricultural workers but also industrial workers by the creation of related facilities such as factories and hydroelectric power stations.
- Inspite 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 foodgrains 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.
SOCIAL CHANGES DUE TO GREEN REVOLUTION AND NEW SOCIAL CLASS
- Participating in the green revolution did not mean the same thing to smaller farmers as it did to bigger farmers. While bigger farmers had enough surplus of their own to invest in the new capital-intensive farming for smaller landowners it meant additional dependence on borrowing generally from informal sources.
- Although theoretically the new technology was scale neutral it was certainly not resource neutral. The new technology also compelled widespread involvement with the market. Thus although the small farmers took to the new technologies the fact that their resources were limited meant that these technologies ushered in a new set of dependencies.
- One of the manifestations of the growing market orientation of agrarian production was the emergence of a totally new kind of mobilization of surplus producing farmers who demanded a better deal for the agricultural sector.
- These new farmers’ movements emerged almost simultaneously in virtually all the green revolution regions. These movements gained momentum during the decade of the 1980s.These movements were led by substantial landowners who had benefited most from the developmental programmes and belonged to the numerically large middle -level caste groups whom Srinivas had called the dominant castes.
- The members of this new social class not only emerged as a dominant group at village level but they also came to dominate regional /state-level politics in most parts of India. They had an accumulated surplus that they sought to invest in ever more profitable enterprises. Some of them diversified into other economic activities or migrated to urban areas or entered agricultural trade. Culturally also this new class differed significantly from both the classical peasants and old landlords.
- The changes produced by the green revolution also generated an interesting debate among Marxist scholars on the question of defining the prevailing mode of production in Indian agriculture. The most contentious revolved around whether capitalism had become dominant in Indian agriculture or was still characterized by the semi-feudal mode of production.
- Another set of scholars on the basis of their own empirical studies mostly from eastern India asserted that Indian agriculture was still dominated by a semi-feudal mode of production. According to this school landlords cum moneylenders continued to dominate the process of agricultural production. Peasants and labourers were tied to them through the mechanism of debt that led to forced commercialization of labour and agricultural yield. This produced a self-perpetuating stagnant and exploitative agrarian structure that could be described as semi-feudal.
- The internal logic of this system worked against any possibility of agricultural growth or the development of capitalism in Indian agriculture.
The limited spread of the Green Revolution has become a cause for concern, as it has remained largely crop- and area-specific. In recent years there has also been some
environmental problems associated with this strategy. On balance, the Green Revolution has been an important contributor to the growth of food-grain output in the four decades. Current strategies of agricultural development must take into account the need for sustainability enhancing technologies and the changes in international trade scenario. Issues such as suitable technology for rainfed areas, resource management, better livelihood strategies and trade should be incorporated in the policy and its implementation assured at all costs.