Q. Critically examine the role of the Green Revolution in the development of agriculture in India.
Answer: The “Green Revolution” is a strategy for raising agricultural output through the
use of high yielding variety seeds combined with the use of fertilisers and other
chemical inputs that started in the 1960s. It was initiated by Norman Borlaug,
which led to his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in
developing High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of wheat. Its introduction in India is
attributed to geneticist Dr. M. S. Swaminathan.
“If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in our
– M. S Swaminathan
• When India became independent in 1947, 90% of its population lived in
600,000 villages depending mainly on agriculture for their livelihood.
• However, Indian agriculture remained unchanged without any
technological changes in agricultural practices and involved wooden
ploughs, waterwheels, and bullock carts etc.
• Industries saw a negative growth as the agriculture sector failed to meet
• The lack of proper technological change and land reforms combined
with droughts brought India to the verge of massive famine in the mid1960s.
• As a result, India had to import food grains, mainly wheat, from the USA
to avert the crisis. This in turn depleted the reserves of the nation.
• So, in order to save the reserves and increase the productivity of cereals,
all the stakeholders and donor agencies decided to induce changes in
agricultural technology and practices.
GREEN REVOLUTION’S CONTRIBUTION TO INDIA’S AGRICULTURAL GROWTH
The introduction of the Green Revolution in India tremendously increased
wheat production and changed India’s status from a food deficient country to
one of the leading agricultural nations. Though the revolution succeeded in
transforming our agricultural sector, it also had its drawbacks.
|• Increased productivity: Food|
grains saw an exponential rise
after the green revolution. It
resulted in a grain output of
131 million tonnes in the year
• The biggest rise was seen
in Wheat, whose
production increased by
more than three times
between 1967-68 and
|• Impact on environment:.|
• The repetitive cropping
pattern and increased crop
intensity reduced the soil
fertility leading to desertification.
• An exponential rise in the
tubewells reduced the water
• Increased use of fertilisers,
pesticides, and herbicides has
caused the soil to become
more toxic, causing
|• Food security: The Green|
revolution made our country
self sufficient in food grains and
provided food security.
|• Health problems: The overuse|
of chemical fertilisers,
pesticides and herbicides
resulted in an increased
incidence of illnesses such as
cancer, renal failure,
stillbirths, and congenital
|• Financial stability: The green|
revolution enabled farmers to
switch from subsistence to
commercial farming thus
providing them better sources
of income and stability.
|• Subsidy: Subsidy as a concept|
emerged during the Green
Revolution and it is currently
hurting the government’s
|• Reduced imports: With the|
increase in availability of food
grains, India became self-sufficient and
had sufficient stock in the central pool.
|• Unequal income: Due to the|
Green Revolution’s emphasis
on inputs, only wealthy
farmers who could afford
those inputs were able to
become wealthy at the
expense of small and marginal
farmers, which widened the
income gap between them.
|• Employment: Due to multiple|
cropping and increased yield,
there was an increased demand
for labour force in the
|• Change in consumption|
pattern: It led to an increase
in the consumption of wheat
and rice. As a result,
consumption of coarse cereals
such as jowar, bajra,
millet etc decreased.
|• Boost to industries: Since|
agricultural products are often
used as raw materials in various
industries, the growth of the
agricultural sector provided a
boost to the industrial sector.
• There was also increased
demand for agricultural
equipment such as
tractors, thrasher and
other inputs like chemical
|• Benefit to limited areas: The|
revolution mostly focused on
increasing the production of
wheat and rice.
• As a result, only those areas
growing wheat and rice such
as Punjab and Hayana
benefited the most. The entire
Eastern region of West
Bengal, Orissa, Assam, etc was
• The high yield crops require
more water and fertilisers as
compared to the normal
varieties of crops. This
constrained it to resource rich
states and arid states could
|• Dispersal of Rice and Wheat|
cultivation to non-traditional
areas: Green Revolution spread
the Rice cultivation to the semiarid
areas of Punjab, Haryana
and Western Uttar Pradesh,
and the wheat cultivation to the
areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and
some parts of Maharashtra,
Gujarat and West Bengal.
|• No focus on non-food crops:|
The main crops during the
revolution were Wheat, Rice,
Jowar, Bajra and Maize. Non
food grains were excluded
from the ambit of this
• As a result, India now needs to
import pulses and oil seeds.
According to the World Population Prospects (WPP), India will have the largest
population in the world by 2023. Therefore, India now requires a second green
revolution in which it can rectify the mistakes of the past revolution and focus
on other aspects such as the environment, poor farmers, non food crops etc
and help improve agriculture’s resilience to climate change and environmental