The Green Revolution - Facts and Fallacies

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The Green Revolution - Facts and Fallacies

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Following article on ”The Green Revolution - Facts and Fallacies” is part of our series on general awareness:        

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s that increased agriculture production around the world beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. But in India, The Green Revolution refers to the increase in food production and in production of non-food items that has significantly and steadily taken place in India since 1966. Dr. Norman Borlaug, who is hailed as the Father of the Green Revolution first introduced genetically modified high-yielding wheat to India in 1963. But the honor of being the Father of Green Revolution in India goes to Dr. M.S.Swaminathan. He is a member of the Parliament, and also heads a foundation called M.S.S.R.F (M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation) in Chennai, India.

The other name written with golden ink in the history of Green Revolution of India is of Dr. M.P. Singh. He was very instrumental in introducing High Yielding Seeds [HYS] to agricultural world of the country. The use of HYS provided the success platform for the Green Revolution in India.
Therefore, the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation resulted in increase in production which was much needed to make India a self-sufficient country in food grains, and thus improved agriculture in India. All these steps collectively are termed as Green Revolution.
Green Revolution not only resulted in good production but the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers reduced the negative effects on the soil and the land such as land degradation. The Green Revolution led to sizable increases in returns to land, and hence raised farmers’ incomes. Moreover, with greater income to spend, new needs for farm inputs, and milling and marketing services, farm families led a general increase in demand for goods and services. This stimulated the rural non-farm economy, which in turn grew and generated significant new income and employment of its own.
This was a general know how of Green Revolution, but of we speak technically, the Green Revolution was much more than just growing crops and using pesticides. 
So, what exactly was the Green Revolution in India?
There were three basic elements in the method of the Green Revolution in India. They were:
1)Continued expansion of farming areas;
The area of land under cultivation was being increased right from 1947. But this was not enough as the demand was rising in much faster pace than supply, but still the expansion of cultivable land continued. So, the Green Revolution continued with this quantitative expansion of farmlands. However, this is NOT the most striking feature of the Revolution.
2)Double-cropping existing farmland;
This was a primary feature of the Green Revolution. Instead of one crop season per year, the decision was made to have two crop seasons per year. The one-season-per-year practice was based on the fact that there is only natural monsoon per year. This was correct. So, there had to be two "monsoons" per year. One would be the natural monsoon and the other an artificial 'monsoon.' which was to be created with the help of huge irrigation facilities. Dams were built to arrest large volumes of natural monsoon water which were earlier being wasted. Simple irrigation techniques were also adopted.
3) Using seeds with improved genetics.
This was the scientific aspect of the Green Revolution. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (which was established by the British in 1929 but was not known to have done any significant research) was re-organized in 1965 and then again in 1973. It developed new strains of high yield value (HYV) seeds, mainly wheat and rice but also millet and corn. The most noteworthy HYV seed was the K68 variety for wheat. The credit for developing this strain goes to Dr. M.P. Singh who is also regarded as the hero of India's Green revolution.
As expected, the Green Revolution also contributed in creating plenty of jobs not only for agricultural workers but also industrial workers by the creation of lateral facilities such as factories and hydro-electric power stations as explained above. This gave better nutrition to the people by raising incomes and reducing prices, which permitted people to consume more calories and a more diversified diet. 
But a revolution of this magnitude was bound to create some problems of its own. Even today, India's agricultural output sometimes falls short of demand. The Green Revolution, howsoever impressive, has thus NOT succeeded in making India totally and permanently self-sufficient in food. In 1979 and 1987, India faced severe drought conditions due to poor monsoon; this rose questions about the whether the Green Revolution was really a long-term achievement. 
Also 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 Punjab and Haryana states showed the best results of the Green Revolution. The eastern plains of the River Ganges in West Bengal state also showed reasonably good results. But results were less impressive in other parts of India.
But we cannot deny that Green Revolution did have its positive effect on the overall agricultural production. Some of them could be:
•India is not self sufficient but is one amongst the countries with the highest agricultural production.
•It is also a food grain exporter.
•Green Revolution taught the concept and techniques of cash crops, and also adamantly pointed towards production of fruits and flowers.
•Production of Unit farmland increased by 30%, as compared to the production of 1947.
•Green Revolution provided scope for Industrial boost because together with HYS fertilizers, farmers also needed more water, more fertilizer, more pesticides, fungicides and certain other chemicals.
•With the irrigation purpose, more dams were constructed, which prompted construction of hydro electric power production and resulted in industrial growth.
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has happened in India again, but it is disturbing to see that even today, there are places like Kalahandi (in India's eastern state of Orissa) where famine-like conditions have been existing for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported. Of course, this is due to reasons other than availability of food in India, but the very fact that some people are still starving in India, whatever the reason may be, brings into question whether the Green Revolution has failed in its overall social objectives though it has been a resounding success in terms of agricultural production. Therefore, ‘The Green Revolution’ cannot be considered to be a 100 percent success. 
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