First Green Revolution in India


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

In the 60s a change had been noticed in the agricultural policy that had been termed the first green revolution. A joint venture of the Ford Foundation of Henry Ford, and the Rockefeller Foundation of Standard Oil had made the world’s agricultural system more dependent on energy and mineral oil. This was an indivisible part of the strategy of making the world more dependent on petroleum. Behind this “green revolution” there were other motives than just improving the Indian agricultural output. The fulfillment of the self-interest of the US was much greater, especially the fulfillment of the plans of the oil companies who wanted to create a permanent market for themselves through this process. The aim of the first revolution was to introduce petrochemical dependency on farming and make inroads in the fields of ownership of seed distribution, take control over the sectors of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, etc. Mexico Experience The initiative to start the first green revolution had begun in Mexico in 1943. At that time, due to the initiative taken by the US based Rockefeller foundation, a joint effort by the US agricultural ministry and the USDA established the wheat and corn research center CMMYIT. Following this, the International Rice Research Center was established in the Philippines. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation were also involved in this effort. Among their different objectives, one was to create hybrid seed varieties that would grow well on nitrogen based fertilisers. The IR-8 variety was created by hybridising PETA of Indonesia with Dee-gee Woo Gen of China. After that, several such research efforts have taken place. This was the first attempt to establish private control over the seed sector. After the WW II, the spectre of communism chased the US all over the world. In their own country, the US established a military economy by striking a deal with labour unions for setting labour policies. If revolutionary movements were afoot in any country, the US would try to identify the roots. There was a specific economic objective to this. And in these efforts, CIA was called in if needed to implement the policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Even in the areas of improvement of irrigation in Mexico and in the creation of high yielding varieties in Philippines, Indonesia, China, the green revolution was made a model of agricultural growth. At the initiative and due to the funding by the Ford Foundation, the Corn Development project (CDP) gave impetus to the agriculture in this country. After that, the Intensive Agricultural District Region (IADR) was started in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and in some provinces of North-Western UP from 1965. In this context, it should be mentioned that the way the rich ruling class of this country tried to use the technology and resources of both Russia and the Western nations simultaneously. Due to this, there was some hesitation in accepting the green revolution. Hearsay said that after the US president Lyndon Johnson threatened to withdraw PL-480, the ruling class conceded to implement the required policies to facilitate the first green revolution. In India The green revolution entered India by exploiting the food crisis. When a nationwide food crisis was going on in the country in the beginning of the 60’s, the green revolution package entered the country through the medium of export reform. Firstly, India was told that a nationwide survey of soil fertility needed to be conducted. The sale of farming equipment in India heralded the use of expensive machinery in Indian agriculture. Also, technology related to chemical fertilizer production was made sophisticated at this time. This was followed by the induction of high yielding seed varieties. Punjab was chosen as the incubation center for the green revolution. Along with the revolution, diesel pump-sets came into India. All of this was tied to the selfish profit motives of the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations. These technologies were not introduced to alleviate India’s hunger. In order to turn the popular tide of public opinion towards the green revolution, a large scale effort was undertaken to train the scientists who would support it. By directly becoming involved in the establishment of 5 universities of the first phase, US established roots in the Indian agricultural education and training arena. National universities had very close associations with US based universities, which often influenced their policy decisions. Examples of such collaborations were the involvements of the Ohio University in Punjab, Michigan University in Tamil Nadu, Purdue, Iowa university in Bangalore. This is how the green revolution established itself in India. This same idea was applied in other countries. Tales of increased yield from the green revolution were circulated. Starting from the school textbooks, people were brainwashed on the positive effects of the green revolution. But nowhere were its negative aspects mentioned. While statistics of increased yield were presented, the price for this yield increase was not mentioned. There were three main subjects of the green revolution. 1. Increase in amount of land under agriculture. 2. Fertile lands were directed to have double crops and increased irrigation. 3. Increased use of high yielding variety seeds. It is not clear why on earth one would need the great opinions of American experts regarding the first two abovementioned steps. There was no need for the eminent experts to tell us that more grain can be produced by cultivating more land which would help in building up the farming system of the country. Second, neither is there any doubt that production would rise if two crops are grown instead of one. The third advice was for securing their hold in seed market. This raised per acre yield undoubtedly. But one also has to consider that cost of production has gone up in the same rate. There is no efficiency gain in obtaining more power by spending more power. In newly independent countries like India where the bourgeoisie rules, the “green revolution” was accorded the status of national agricultural policy. In order to protect from the danger of second world war and world wide economic depression, the interest of the saviour of world capitalism, namely the United States, and that of the Indian bourgeoisie converged on the same point. In the agricultural system of colonial age the government was not concerned about the food availability of common people. Without attaining any development in agriculture many exportable crops such as jute, coffee, tobacco, cotton were grown. In the interest of imperialism through permanent settlement, zamindari, mahalwari, ryotwari tenure systems capitalist production were carried on. The main aim of the British government was to collect taxes, to that end it compromised with the local feudal structure. Immediately after independence therefore food crisis, problems of all around rural development cropped up along with problems of expansion of capitalism in agriculture. The reason why the Indian capitalist class interest started following the blue print prepared by the two American organisations, Rockfeller and Ford Foundation are as follows, 1.In the newly independent country the torch bearer of democracy, the Congress Party, followed a system of mixed economy to achieve welfare for all. But while doing so crisis on food front became the biggest issue. To reach food to industrial workers and ordinary citizens control should be exercised over supply of food and its price. Therefore, the central government adopted green revolution oriented agricultural policy to quell possibilities of imminent rebellion and insurrections. 2.Some investments were legitimately taking place in agriculture. A major part of the compensation paid to the princely states also got invested in industries and share market. But in spite of all this the capitalist structure in agriculture was not taking a robust shape because of elements of semi-feudalism, slavery, begar system (bonded labour system in agriculture). So land reform, technology oriented farming, high yielding variety seeds, expansion of irrigation and such measures were taken. 3.Western influences were leaving deep imprint on the thinking, practice, values (especially in the field of technology) in the middle and upper class for decades before independence was attained. In the newly independent country that western influence, mainly in technology, became US oriented within a decade. On the other hand as far as the harmful effects of green revolution are concerned the first is stability. The yield per acre could not be sustained. Two, countries which had adopted this technology are importing food at present. Possibly the global food merchants had this aim in mind. Three, hunger of the poor has not gone down, it has risen on the contrary. Serious harms were done to ecology. The farmers are finding farming no longer profitable courtesy adoption of the expensive farming system. Besides the well off farmers, conditions of small and marginal peasants have deteriorated (92% of peasants in West Bengal are small and marginal). Most importantly, the government itself is admitting that the first green revolution technology has lost efficiency. The edge has worn out in ten years. On can go on over this, but let us stop here for the time being.

Thursday, 03rd Dec 2015, 02:36:11 AM

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