The Green Revolution in India refers to a period when Indian agriculture was converted into an industrial system due to the adoption of modern methods and technology such as the use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides, and fertilizers. It was mainly found by M.S. Swaminathan. This was part of the larger Green revolution endeavor initiated by Norman Borlaug, which leveraged agricultural research and technology to increase agricultural productivity in the developing world.
The Green Revolution within India commenced in the early 1960s that led to an increase in food grain production, especially in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Major milestones in this undertaking were the development of high-yielding varieties of wheat, and rust resistant strains of wheat. However, agricultural scientists like M.S. Swaminathan and social scientists like Vandana Shiva are of the opinion that it caused greater long term sociological and financial problems for the people of Punjab and Haryana.
The main development was higher-yielding varieties of wheat, for developing rust resistant strains of wheat. The introduction of high-yielding varieties(HYV) of seeds and the increased quality of fertilizers and irrigation technique led to the increase in production to make the country self-sufficient in food grains, thus improving agriculture in India. The methods adopted included the use of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds with modern farming methods.
The production of wheat has produced the best results in fueling self-sufficiency of India. Along with high-yielding seeds and irrigation facilities, the enthusiasm of farmers mobilized the idea of agricultural revolution. Due to the rise in use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, there was a negative effect on the soil and the land (e.g., land degradation).
Famines in India have been severe, frequent, and widespread throughout recorded history and noted as early as 2000 years ago. The severity of these famines and their relationship to the history of British rule and economic policies in the 19th and 20th centuries make statements about the causes of famine in India controversial and difficult to cite without bias.
Marginal farmers found it very difficult to get finance and credit at economical rates from the government and banks and hence, fell as easy prey to the money lenders. They took loans from landlords, who charged high rates of interests and also exploited the farmers later on to work in their fields to repay the loans (farm labourers). Proper financing was not given during the Green Revolution period, which created a lot of problems and sufferings to the farmers of India. Government also helped those under loans.
Due to traditional agricultural practices, low productivity, and a growing population, often food grains were imported -- draining scarce foreign reserves. It was thought that with the increased production due to the Green Revolution, the government could maintain buffer stock and India could achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliability.
Agriculture was basically for subsistence and, therefore, less agricultural product was offered for sale in the market. Hence, the need was felt to encourage the farmers to increase their production and offer a greater portion of their products for sale in the market. The new methods in agriculture increased the yield of rice and wheat, which reduced India's dependence on food imports.
Criticism of the effects of the green revolution include the cost for many small farmers using HYV seeds, with their associated demands of increased irrigation systems and pesticides. A case study is found in India, where farmers are buying Monsanto BT cotton seeds--sold on the idea that these seeds produced 'natural insecticides'. In reality, they need to still pay for expensive pesticides and irrigation systems, which might lead to increased borrowing to finance the change from traditional seed varieties. Many farmers have difficulty in paying for the expensive technologies, especially if they have a bad harvest.
Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva writes that this is the "second Green Revolution". The first Green Revolution, she suggests, was mostly publicly funded (by the Indian Government). This new Green Revolution, she says, is driven by private (and foreign) interest - notably MNCs like Monsanto. Ultimately, this is leading to foreign ownership over most of India's farmland.
Excessive and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides polluted waterways and killed beneficial insects and wild life. It has caused over-use of soil and rapidly depleted its nutrients. The rampant irrigation practices led to eventual soil degradation. Groundwater practices have fallen dramatically. Further, heavy dependence on few major crops has led to loss of biodiversity of farmers. These problems were aggravated due to absence of training to use modern technology and vast illiteracy leading to excessive use of chemicals.
The green revolution spread only in irrigated and high-potential rainfed areas. The villages or regions without the access of sufficient water were left out that widened the regional disparities between adopters and non-adopters. Since, the HYV seeds technically can be applied only in a land with assured water supply and availability of other inputs like chemicals, fertilizers etc. The application of the new technology in the dry-land areas is simply ruled out.
The states like Punjab, Haryana, Western UP etc. having good irrigation and other infrastructure facilities were able to derive the benefits of the green revolution and achieve faster economic development while other states have recorded slow growth in agriculture production.