Green Revolution in India – UPSC

In this article, You will read Green Revolution in India – for UPSC IAS.

Green Revolution

  • Richard Bradly in 1940 called India a “begging bowl” due to its heavy import dependence of food grains from the USA.
  • In Mexico, there was a famine and at the same time the USA drowned millions of tonnes of wheat to maintain high prices.
  • William Gadd in 1968 in Washington DC used the term “Green Revolution” for the first time.
  • Green Revolution refers to the multiple growths in crop production in 3rd world countries based on the use of modern inputs, technologies, HYVs, farm mechanization, and irrigation facilities.
  • Green Revolution was termed by Prof. William Gadd in 1968 in a seminar titled “The food crisis in 3rd World Countries” in Washington D C. It reflected the agro-economical situation of developing countries aiming at self-sufficiency in agriculture and mitigation of food crisis, hunger, famine, and related social evils.
  • The Mexican food crisis was the stimulus as Professor Norman Borlaug developed HYVs by genetic modification and cross-fertilization of good quality of wheat. It was successful in Mexico and wheat production doubled in 7 years.
  • Self-sufficiency was achieved and it triggered a similar revolution in other crops across the world. Rice revolution took place in the Philippines and Japan which spread into South East Asia.
  • In 1961, M.S. Swaminathan invited Norman who suggested a similar revolution in Indian agriculture. Green Revolution was introduced with the Intensive Agriculture District Program (IADP) on an experimental basis in 7 district viz. Jalandhar, Aligarh, Shahbad (Bihar), Raipur, West Godavari (A.P), Tanjavur (T.N), Pali (Rajasthan).
  • The program was successful and in 1964-65, the Intensive Agriculture Area Program (IAAP) was started and the number of districts was raised to 32.
  • In 1965-66 the HYV program was started which is the starting point of the Green Revolution in India.

Basis of Green Revolution

  • High Yielding Varieties (HYVs): These are the genetically modified seed which can yield 2 to 3 times more than normal crop. They are dwarf variety with dense canopy and needs grater amount of water, use of chemical fertilizer, protection from pest and weeds as it very tender and fragile. It also requires on farm activities like soil preparation. It has short generation period and leads to greater production in short period of time. The short duration of growth leads to the use of land for next crop thus leading to increase in cropping intensity.
  • Irrigation facilities: The net irrigated area in 1960 was only 30 million hectare and it was a daunting task to extend irrigation to rest of India.
  • Green Revolution required a good network of rural credit and micro financing for supporting the needs of farmers.
  • Commercialization of agriculture: Introduction of Minimum Support Prices for crops gave farmers extra reason to grow more crops.
  • Farm Mechanization: It was required for increasing the crop production.
  • Command Area Development Program (CADP): CADP was introduced in 1974. It consisted of two methods:
    • On farm development activities: It includes construction of agricultural channels, ploughing, levelling, budding etc.
    • Off farm development activities: It includes construction of roads, rural connectivity, marketing, transportation communication etc.
  • Use of chemical fertilizer: Indian soil is deficient in Nitrogen so NPK fertilizers were used with standard ratio of 4:2:1 but the actual ratio used was 3:8:1.
  • Use of insecticide, Pesticide, weedicides.
  • Rural electrification: It was the precondition for increasing farm mechanization practices.
  • Land holding and land reforms: Land holding refers to consolidation of land and land reforms involves various steps such as abolition of intermediaries, abolition of Zamindari, tenancy reforms etc.

Phases of Green Revolution

  • Phase I (1965-66 to 1980):
    • India was in ardent need of immediate food supply and self sufficiency in food grain production. Wheat revolution was successful in various 3rd world countries like Mexico, Egypt, etc.
    • This phase was not only crop specific but also region specific because the agriculture infrastructure was well developed in Punjab while Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh took advantage of its vicinity where irrigation facility could be easily extended. Also this region was free from natural hazards.
    • This phase stared with IADP and IAAP program on experimental basis but main initiative was the HYV program during the Annual Plan of 1965-66.
    • In 1974 with Command Area Development Program, Green Revolution was reemphasised.
    • The food production in 1950-51 was merely 25 MT and it was 33 MT in 1965-66. In 1980 it jumped to 100 MT which was three times increase in a span of 10 years. It was more centralised towards wheat production which was increased by 2.5 times in 5 years. This was termed as Green Revolution.
    • This provided India with self sufficiency in food grain production and the incidences of malnutrition, famine, poverty, starvation were mitigated. India was successful in coming out of the Begging Bowl image.
  • Phase II (1980-1991)
    • During the 6th and 7th plan, wet agriculture (mainly rice) was targeted.
    • During the first phase, rice production was increase merely 1.5 times. The regions having rainfall more than 100 cm like West Bengal, Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Coastal plains were targeted.
    • It met with partial success and Krishna-Godavari delta and Cauvery basin yielded the coveted results. West Bengal also showed increased productivity and in Bihar, the Bhojpur experienced the fruits of Green Revolution.
    • The full potential of productivity in rice was however not realised due to institutional factors like land reforms, tenancy etc. Land reforms should have been implemented in the areas like UP, West Bengal, Bihar, but it was not done at right time.
    • The traditional outlook of farmers was also a major limiting factor in the success of Second phase of Green revolution.
  • Third Phase (1991-2003):
    • During the 8th and 9th plan, dry land agriculture was targeted and HYV was introduced in cotton, oilseeds, pulses, millets etc. This met with partial success.
    • Integrated Watershed Management Programme was initiated to improve the conditions in sub- humid and semi-arid regions of India. However, it was not very successful except in the Narmada – Tapi doab and the Tungbhadra basin and also the Bhima – Krishna basin.
    • After the end of 9th plan, there was a paradigm shift in approach of the govt policies. The ecological repercussion in the green revolution areas led to relatively new concept of balanced Agriculture growth based on agricultural ecology, conversation method and sustainable development (10th plan). The entire agricultural sector was targeted and it is known as the Rainbow Revolution. The process of Rainbow Revolution had affiliated in 1980’s with Yellow revolution (oilseeds), Blue Revolution, White Revolution (milk earlier in 1970’s), Brown Revolution (fertilizers) and Silver revolution (poultry).
    • In the 11th plan, the idea has been further elevated to sustainable agriculture with balanced growth referred to as inclusive growth.
total food grain production in India 1960-2017

Advantages of Green Revolution

  • Green Revolution was pertinent for a country with perennial food crisis and population explosion.
  • Green Revolution led to the removal of hunger and famine.
  • Green Revolution gave rise to capitalistic farming practices in India.
  • Surplus was generated in agriculture which led to its commercialization.
  • Green Revolution led to the development of rural infrastructure which was a pre condition to Green Revolution.
  • Green Revolution made India self – sufficient in food grains.
  • Financial burden due to agriculture imports were reduced which could now be channelized into various poverty alleviation program e.g. Backwards Area Development Programme, IRDP, Tribal Area Development Program etc.
  • Increase in wage rate led to availability of cash money to the farmers.
  • Development of agro-processing industries, food-processing industries led to industrialisation of tier – II/III towns. It led to higher rate of urbanisation.
  • Population increase during 60’s – 80’s required higher food supply, which was only possible by Green Revolution. The population increase from 33 crores to 66 crores within a gap of 25 yrs.
  • Green Revolution led to the mechanisation of agriculture.
  • Land reforms, consolidation of land holding etc. was done in Green Revolution areas.
  • Forward and backward linkages of agriculture with industries got strengthened. Forward linkages mean supply of raw material to industry. Backward linkage refers to demand of raw material from industry.
green revolution

Repercussions of Green Revolution:

  • Vandana Shiva, an environmentalist, has commented that Green Revolution remained area specific and crop specific culminating in regional disparities which has led to the increase in ethnic regionalism and consciousness.
  • Sudhir Sen has said that Green Revolution is not a misnomer, it is a reality. The economic advantages are perceptible but the social disadvantages have been far more accentuated than the former. Capitalistic Farming led to the selling of land by marginal farmers to large farmers who offered high prices and thus marginal farmers became labourers.
  • Vandana Shiva proposed an arithmetic equation to show that similar benefits of Green Revolution could have been achieved if all states of India had increased their prod by 20%.
  • The environment, ecology, soil, land, water of North-western India has been negatively affected by the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc. Thus, Green Revolution was neither futuristic nor visionary and was unsustainable.
    • Economic Repercussions:
      • Inter – personal disparity emerged which led to differences between people due to difference in earning at different places.
      • Inter – regional disparity emerged due to difference in crop production e.g. West UP vs. East UP.
      • Inter – state disparity emerged, for e.g. in 1960 Punjab and Bihar, both states contributed same in terms of crop production but due to Green Revolution there became a huge gap in crop production between the two states by 1990.
      • Due to increase in informal credit services labours and cultivators got into the vicious cycle of debt – trap.
    • Social Repercussions:
      • Increased rural landlessness, smaller marginal farmers were rendered landless and became agricultural labourers which led to rural handicapness and health hazards.
      • Greater unemployment due to mechanisation.
      • Patriarchy was strengthened, female discrimination, female foeticide, dowry increased.
    • Ecological Repercussions:
      • Soil degradation due to unscientific methods of farming led to salinization, alkalisation, formation of reh, Kallar etc.
      • Excessive use of irrigation has led to the issue of water logging in Green Revolution areas.
      • Green Revolution led Toxication of soil from unwanted chemicals due to excessive use of fertilizers.
      • Green Revolution led to the increase in water pollution degrading the quality of water in rivers, tanks and reservoirs.
      • Eutrophication – It is the enrichment of one element or nutrient resulting in boom of certain species specific plants. E.g. The excessive nitrogen in tanks and ponds leading to boom of water – hyacinth. Due to eutrophication, natural ecosystems die, for e.g. – the excessive growth of water hyacinth plant kills the pond ecosystem since sun rays, oxygenation become less in lower water layers.
      • Green Revolution led to the large scale deforestation especially in Punjab, Tarai and Bhabhar regions where forests were cleared for agricultural purposes.
      • Green Revolution also led to the disruption in agricultural ecology by crop monoculture, (E.g. due to crop monoculture of wheat, many people say India has only wheat revolution), use of pesticides, fertilizers, weedicides.
evolution of green revolution


  • Green Revolution was directed towards food sufficiency for the country. The goal has been achieved. Thus it requires sustainable agricultural pattern.
  • Also, much wider area could be brought under the Green Revolution and instead of Green Revolution it can be transformed into evergreen Revolution.
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