A Retrospect and Prospect of Indian Green Revolution


The Advent of Indian Green Revolution


The entire episodes of transformations in the agriculture sector with the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds in India after 1965 and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation are collectively known as the Indian Green Revolution. It Increased production needed to make India self-sufficient in food grains.


The program was started with the help of the United States-based Rockefeller Foundation and was based on high-yielding varieties of wheat, rice, and other grains that had been developed in Mexico and in the Philippines. Of the high-yielding seeds, wheat produced the best results. In India, it was started by M.S. Swaminathan and Norman Borlaug at the disposal of the then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi. It was a mere experiment, done with the welfare intention which imprinted historical impact over the country’s social, economic, and political aspects for a very long time. The need or rather the urgency behind the reform in the agriculture sector was triggered by the world’s worst food crisis ever recorded, which happened in 1943 in British ruled India, the Bengal Famine. An estimated four million people died of hunger that year alone in Eastern India (that included today’s Bangladesh).

The initial theory put forward to explain that the catastrophe was due to an acute shortfall in food production in the area. However, Indian economist Amartya Sen (recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics, 1998) has established that while food shortage was a contributor to the problem, a more potent factor was the result of hysteria related to World War II which made food supply a low priority for the British rulers. The hysteria was further exploited by Indian traders who hoarded food in order to sell at higher prices. The historians have established the fact that Churchill’s deliberate orders kept the famine hit areas deprived of the food supply in order to build up Britain’s food reserves. This famine hit hard on Indians and India’s economy and demography. The Indigo plantation menace added to the burden on Indian food reserves as farmers were forced to grow cash crops in place of food crops.


When the British left India four years later in 1947, India continued to be haunted by memories of the Bengal Famine. It was therefore natural that food security was a paramount item on free India’s agenda. This awareness led, on one hand to the Green Revolution in India and on the other- legislative measures to ensure that businessmen would never again be able to hoard food for profit.

However, the term “Green Revolution” is applied to the period from 1967 to 1978. Between 1947 and 1967, efforts at achieving food self-sufficiency were not entirely successful. Efforts until 1967 largely concentrated on expanding the farming areas. But the deaths by starvation were still being reported in the newspapers. In a perfect case of Malthusian economics, the population was growing at a much faster rate than food production. This called for drastic action to increase yield. The action came in the form of the Green Revolution. The term “Green Revolution”, in general, is applied to successful agricultural experiments in many Third world countries. It is not specific to India. But it was thought to be most successful in India.

The Basic Strategy of the Green Revolution

The new policy towards agriculture which began in the mid-1960s was a departure from th