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Green Revolution: M S Swaminathan

GS3/GS1 Paper 

 Syllabus: Agriculture/ Post Independence


Source: HT

 Context: The Green Revolution, led by Norman Borlaug (Father of Green Revolution in the World) and M S  Swaminathan, introduced high-yield variety seeds in the 1960s, boosting food grain production, especially wheat and rice.

  • Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for this.


Need for Green Revolution in India:

The Bengal Famine of 1943 caused a massive food crisis, leading to 4 million deaths. Post-independence, India focused on expanding farming, but population growth outpaced food production. Despite the creditable growth of agricultural output between 1949 and 1965, India has been facing food shortages since the mid-1950s. India was dependent on food imports from Western countries at a subsidised rate


Elements of Green Revolution in India:

Expansion of Farming AreasThe Green Revolution supported the quantitative expansion of farmlands to meet rising agricultural demands.
Double-cropping SystemIntroduced two crop seasons annually instead of one, with the help of irrigation projects and dam construction.
Using seeds with improved geneticsUtilized high-yield variety seeds, mainly for wheat and rice, developed by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
Important Crops in the RevolutionMain crops included Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra, and Maize, with a focus on food grains, particularly wheat.


Positive Impact of Green Revolution:

Positive ImpactDescription
Crop YieldsCrop yields per acre grew at 2.5% per year between 1967-68 and 1989-90
Food ProductionFoodgrain production increased by 35% between 1967-68 and 1970-71
India achieved self-sufficiency in food production and built buffer food stocks.
Exported food to pay back loans and provide assistance to food-deficit countries.
Generated a rapid increase in the marketable surplus of food grains.
It primarily boosted wheat production, increasing it over threefold from 1967-68 to 2003-04, while overall cereal production doubled
Private InvestmentPublic investment, credit, and new technology boosted profitability for private farmers.
Total gross capital formation in agriculture increased, leading to more investments.
Growth in the gross irrigated area increased significantly.
Agricultural Growth RateGreen Revolution contributed to India’s sustained high rate of agricultural growth.
Shifted growth from increasing land area to improving yields.
Crop Area ExpansionSignificant growth in the area under high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice
Rural EmploymentGenerated jobs for agricultural and industrial workers due to multiple cropping and fertilizers


Negative Impacts of the Green Revolution:

Non-Food Grains NeglectedFocus on wheat, rice, and limited crops, neglecting coarse cereals, pulses, and oilseeds.
Regional DisparitiesUneven adoption, affecting only certain areas, worsening regional disparities in development.
Excessive Chemical UsageWidespread use of pesticides and fertilizers without proper education or precautions.
Water ConsumptionIntroduction of water-intensive crops depleting groundwater, particularly in regions like Punjab.
Soil and Crop ProductionDepletion of soil nutrients, increased fertilizer usage, pH level changes, and yield decline.
UnemploymentFarm mechanization causes rural unemployment, particularly affecting poor labourers.
Health HazardsThe use of toxic chemicals leads to health issues, including cancer, birth defects, and more.


Negative Impact of Green Revolution on the agrarian society:

Rising InequalityIn Green Revolution areas, medium and large farmers benefited the most while Small and marginal farmers couldn’t afford expensive inputs, exacerbating inequality.
Commercialization of agriculture favoured farmers with resources
Increased Poverty ConditionsRich farmers benefited while landless and marginal holders faced worsened poverty.
Displacement of tenant cultivators as landowners took back land for cultivation.
Rising Class DifferencesThe introduction of machinery led to the displacement of service caste groups, thereby resulting in increasing differences in terms of class and caste
Social ViolenceThe Green Revolution altered social interactions, highlighting caste and class inequalities.
Exploitative labour relations and disparities contributed to social violence, including inter-caste conflicts.


Government Initiatives for Green Revolution:


Green Revolution Krishonnati Yojana:

Introduced by the Indian government in 2005
Aims to develop agriculture and allied sectors scientifically to increase farmer income.
Comprises 11 schemes and missions under a single umbrella:Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
National Food Security Mission (NFSM)
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE)
Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP)
Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)
Sub-Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPPQ)
Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics, and Statistics (ISACES)
Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC)
Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM)
National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A)



The Evergreen Revolution:

Proposed by Dr M S Swaminathan
A response to the adverse environmental effects of intensive farming during the Green Revolution.
Aims to increase productivity in an environmentally safe, economically viable, and socially sustainable way.
Involves integrating ecological principles into technology development and dissemination.



In all, despite the gaps in the Green Revolution (which are now being balanced with sustainable agricultural patterns), it was a necessary step to meet the challenges of the Indian economy, population and agriculture in the post-independence growth years.


 Insta Links:

Delhi To Introduce MSP based on Swaminathan Commission Report


Mains Links:

How has India benefited from the contributions of Sir M Visvesvaraya and Dr M S Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively? (UPSC 2019)