The Green Revolution is the name given to the massive effort to bring about many-fold increase in food production, with the help of high-yielding varieties of seeds and larger inputs of fertilizers, water and power. This Phrase or Slogan became popular in the mid-sixties, though efforts in this direction were afoot even earlier in countries like Mexico, which had successfully boosted its agricultural yield with the help of new dwarf variety of seeds. Many other countries of the world, such as Philippines, Thailand and Ceylon followed suit. It has now become a symbol of higher, higher and still higher food production to meet the challenge of impending threat of starvation to mankind. It has revolutionised agricultural operation and has brought in an era of plenty and prosperity. As a vast continent with a vast population, India had no option other than to make an all-out effort to produce enough food to feed her teeming millions.
Whether the Green Revolution is a myth or a fact is no longer a matter of opinion, but a matter of facts and figures. If one examines in some detail how India attained self-sufficiency in food within a short time, one will be fully convinced of the reality of the Green Revolution. At one time India suffered from perennial food shortages and an impression went round the world that India would never be able to produce enough quantities of foodgrains to meet the need of her continuously increasing population. It was really an irony of fate that India which had been exporting foodgrains upto 1945, should go abroad with a begging bowl to ask for charity to feed her people. There were two main reasons for such a sad state of affairs on the food front in India—first, the partition of the country and secondly, high rate of growth of population. The situation became worse in the coming years.
Such a situation was intolerable and the leadership of the country was fully conscious of its implications is borne out by the fact that the First Five Year Plan of the country was directed towards the achievement of the objective of food self-sufficiency. Concerted efforts achieved some success and food self-sufficiency appeared to be a probable goal. But unfortunately the Second Plan ‘and its aftermath led to a crisis in the food situation, as the empha-lis was shifted to heavy industries. India’s food position entered a very critical stage during the Second Five Year Plan, partly due to neglect of agriculture and food drive, and partly due to nature’s hostility in the form of drought and floods in various parts of the country. The food production in India at the end of the Second Five Year Plan stood at 68 million tonnes against her requirement of 92 million, tonnes. The gap of 24 million tonnes was left to be met by imports.
During the Third Five-Year Plan India’s food situation further worsened. The maximum production during this period was 88.8 million tonnes in 1964-65, while there was a 19 per cent drop in food. Even today man’s foremost indispensable necessity continues to be food for which he has to devote the maximum of his time and energy. Thus so far a* food is concerned, man still continues to be a savage in the gratification of his hunger.
It would to wrong to think that man’s priorities have changed in the modern age. It is again absurd to believe that the civilised man has been able to subdue his urge to satisfy hunger. Even under the cloak or garb of civilisation appeasement of hunger persists as the prime need of man for which he behaves’like a prehistoric primitive man. The civilised man, of course, does not as far as possible throw off the cloak of civilisation or civilised behaviour for earning his bread. But when faced with starvation, the savage in him turns wild and tries to secure food even by the most inhuman way or by the lowest means. Civilisation has changed many things in man, but not his instincts. The instinct of self-preservation is as strong in man as it was ever before. His hunger should be satisbed at all costs. No philosophy, religious discourses or lofty ideals are capable of satisfying his iiurg;r. Love, duty, dedication, patriotism, humanism, and dogmas are of no interest to one with an empty stomach. Man works like a machine or a beast of burden to appease his hunger. In the primitive age man had to risk his life for procuring his food. In the modern age man may even compromises his self-respect and suppress his ego for his bread.
In surveying the history of human civilisation, we can clearly see the importance of food for human beings. Man started cultivation. While sowing his piece of land he worshipped land in the hope of reaping a good harvest. As the crop was dependent on water, he worshipped rivers and the rain-god to get enough water for his crop. Man worshipped the gods of wind, rain and the sun and offered sacrifices to them to get a good crop. He domesticated animals that were a source of food. He even worshipped the cow that gave him milk.
In the modern world countries may be classified into three categories. There are wealthy countries, where the population is well-fed ; there are countries, which somehow manage to feed their people ; and there are countries which are unable to provide food to their people. The counties in the third category either import or borrow or beg food for their people. The rich countries with surplus food which they sell, loan or dole out to hungry countries have assumed the position of supergods as food givers. They exert pressures on countries which receive food from them and even blackmail them. The poor and helpless countries have to put up with all sorts of unreasonable strings attached to the supply of food shipments, because they need food for their survival. These mini-gods (food supplier countries) have reduced the food receiving countries to the position of their slaves.
The struggle between the ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’ is nothing but a battle for survival : it is concerned with the economic betterment
of the ‘havenots’ ; it is, thus, again a fight for a morsel of food. The poor working class is engaged in a fierce battle for keeping its body and soul together. Food is at the root of worldwide industrial unrest. The workers hit hard at those who try to deprive them of their food, which they must get for their physical existence. Try to deny the worker of his bread and he would attack you with all his might. He is prepared to undergo all miseries, indignities and deprivations excepting a meal, Without which his very existence would be in jeopardy. The labourer works only to satisfy his hunger and he will go to any length to ensure his bare necessity of food. Is it not hunger that compels him to accept the lawest and most miserable condition of life ? He will do anything and everything to satisfy bis hunger. When even this is denied to him, he is faced with starvation. In many countries where political freedom has not followed economic freedom, and where the state has failed to ameliorate the lot of the poorer sections of the society, democratic institutions have tumbled like houses of cards. It is not that people do not value their political freedom, but they surely need two square meals a day, whatever the political setup. Political setup or political philosophy may be of much importance to those academicians, who can afford time and energy in discussing the pros and cons of various political systems, rather than worry about their livelihood.
A hungry man is interested in food and food alone. Ask him to accompany you to a cinema show, he would decline. Deliver a discourse on Gita and he would not take any interest. Exhibitions will not interest him and lectures will not inspire him. His most immediate need of food must get top priority. The person who provides him food is like a god to him. All values and high ideals are of no consequence to him, unless his belly is full. Hunger knows no limits. A hungry man has no scruples. It is rightly said that a hungry man is likely to commit any crime to appease his hunger. A hungry man is a an angry man, and anger is alien to reason. A man with nothing to eat may in desperation embark upon any hazardous attempt. He may beg, commit theft or dacoity to satisfy his hunger. A fasting hand may snatch away his share from a table of feast. He may stoop to any level of degradation, meanness or immorality. He may turn anti-social, lawless and even anti-national. He may lay down his all at the altar of the food-god.
There are people who do not know the pangs of hunger ; there are others who know nothing else. There can be no meeting ground in the thinking of the two categories of people. Those who have -never known the pangs of hunger can hardly realise their severity and therefore are unable to sympathise with poor, hunger-striken people. Food is the basic need of all human beings, but a wide disparity exists in the means to procure food. Some enjoy eight-course dinners in 5 star hotels, while some unfortunate men are food production in 1965-67. India was compelled to import large quantities of foodgrains from the United States of America under PL 480 Food for Peace Programme.
It was in 1967-68 that the Green Revolution actually got underway. Our food production thereafter recorded a steady progress. The food production in 1968 was 92 million tonnes which rose to 95 million tonnes in 1969. The real breakthrough came in 1970, when the production crossed the 108 million tonne mark. This was possible partly due to the new strategy adopted and massive efforts made to revolutionise the whole process of farming. The new strategy involved use of high yielding new varieties of seeds and larger supply of other necessary agricultural inputs. The new dwarf variety of seeds showed good response to chemical fertilizers. The role of these seeds was crucial in the rapid progress of the Green Revolution, because even the most progressive farmer in India would have found it rather impossible to increase their farm yield to that extent without these dwarf varieties of seeds. Some of these new varieties of seeds have done wonders. The IRS variety of rice seeds developed by the International Rice Research Institute is capable of giving four to six times yield. It is, therefore, rightly known as miracle rice. Indian scientists have crossed this IR8 variety with local varieties to make it suit Indian environment and also to make it disease resistant. The hybrid variety of seeds and Japanese method of cultivation have revolutionised rice production in India. A number of new varieties which have become popular with Indian farmers are Vijaya, New Sabarmnti, Krishna, Ratna, Bala, Padma, Kauvery, Pusa 221, Jaya, etc. Efforts are afoot to find a limited number of varieties which may be used widely.
The achievement is not confined to the field of rice alone. Mexican variety of dwarf wheat has, no doubt, done miracles. The Indian scientists have successfully developed such dwarf varieties of wheat as are more tasteful and nutritious. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has developed a triple dwarf variety ‘Hira’, which has become very popular with the farmers in areas where local conditions suit. There are other hybird varieties of wheat seeds which are rust-resistant and give excellent yield. Some of the varieties can be grown in both irrigated and dry areas. ‘Moti’, ‘Shera’, ‘Pusa Lerma’ are some high-yielding varieties which are popular in Uttar Pradesh, Central India and Karnataka. In addition, new high-yielding varieties of jowar, maize, bajra, ragi and barley have also been developed. Indian scientists are busy evolving new strains of cotton, oilseeds, sunflower, soyabean and coconut.
The new high-yielding varieties of new strains have their peculiar requirements. They need more water and more fertilizers at proper times. The quantity of water and fertilizers needed for various strains is different. In the wake of the Green Revolution greater efforts werefmade to increase the production of fertilisers and
pesticides. Larger irrigation facilities were made available to farmers. The fertiliser consumption reached the level of 38 million tonnes in 1975-76 ; the consumption of pesticides rose to about 50,000 tonnes in 1975-76. The irrigation facilities were made available for 48’4 million hectares in 1977-78. The high-yielding varieties and multiple cropping programme involve a tight schedule of various farm operations and make more exacting demands for motive power. Consequently the use of tractors and power tillers has registered an increase. Of late, demand for threshers and combined harvesters has also gone up. The number of tractors in use for cultivation went up from about 21,000 in 1966 to about 55,000 in 1967 and is now estimated to be 2 lakh. Adequate capacity has also been created for the manufacture of hand-operated tools, improved animal and power-driven implements and tractors.
As a result of these massive efforts the food production reached the peak level of 121’03 million tonnes in 1975-76 and 11T57 milion tonnes in 1976-77. The level of food production in 1977-78 touched 121 million tonnes. In terms of production and productivity of rice and wheat, the performance was unprecedented.
India is no longer a country inflicted with food shortages. In fact we are producing more food than what we need. It has been possible, for us to return some quantities of wheat that we had taken from the U.S.S.R. on loan. In addition, India is supplying some foodgrains to Afghanistan, Vietnam and Indonesia. India has a very realistic programme of food production for the Sixth Plan period (1978-83). It is expected that the food production will be 140’5 to 144’5 million tonnes in 1982-83, recording an increase of 3’61 per cent annually. A sum of Rs. 5,800 crores has been earmarked, in this plan, for agriculture and allied activities during 1978-83. In view of these figures of production of foodgrains in the country, who can say that the Green Revolution is not a reality, but a myth ?