Green revolution was the government programme of agricultural modernisation, funded by international agencies to provide Indian farmers with the variety of tools to increase the production such as high-yielding variety (HYV) or hybrid seeds, pesticides, fertilisers, and other inputs. The green revolution was first introduced in the regions of Punjab, western U.P., coastal Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Tamil Nadu. It was introduced in these areas only because water was essential for irrigation for the new type of seeds and cultivation and it mainly focused on wheat and rice-growing areas. Green revolution made India self-sufficient in foodgrain production, but at the same time, sociologists came to know about the negative social effect that will worsen the environmental impacts.
The various social consequences of the Green Revolution were as follows:
• As the new technology came up, large and medium farmers benefitted the most. It is because large farmers had the money to buy expensive inputs which the small and marginal farmers couldn’t afford. There was an increase in subsistence agriculture as farmers were able to produce for themselves and for the market as well. They are usually termed as ‘peasants’. Farmers were able to take advantage of the green revolution and from the commercialization of agriculture as they were able to produce a surplus for the market.
• In the 1960s and 1970s, which was the first phase of the green revolution, there was the increasing inequality in rural society due to the introduction of the new technology. HYV seeds (green revolution seeds) were extremely profitable as it generated more produce. Large farmers who could afford to buy expensive tools, capital, seeds and fertilisers easily are able to increase their production and earn money. This led to the displacement of the tenant-cultivators as cultivation became more profitable landowners just took it back and started cultivating themselves. Social consequence of this factor was that rich farmers got better whereas poor and landless farmers’ condition deteriorated.
• In areas like Punjab and parts of Madhya Pradesh, new machinery introduced such as tillers, tractors, threshers, and harvesters. This caused the displacement of the service caste groups who used to do agriculture-related activities. This also led to rural-urban migration.
• Due to the green revolution, rich people grew richer whereas the poor grew poorer. But at the same time, for agricultural workers, as the demand for labour increased, employment and wages also increased. The economic condition for the rural workers worsened as there was a shift in the mode payment form kind (grain) to cash.
• The second phase of the green revolution was introduced in the dry and semi-arid regions of India. Following changes were brought in these regions - shift from dry to wet (irrigated) cultivation, changes in the cropping pattern, and in the type of crops grown. Increase in commercial agriculture and dependence on the market led to the increase in the livelihood insecurity and more dependence on the markets for income. Moreover, when the single crop is grown for the market its fall in prices or bad crop would ruin the financial condition of the farmers. Due to this, many farmers adopted a multi-crop system which reduced the risk that came from crop failure.
• Green revolution also led to the worsening of the regional inequalities. Some areas developed due to the technological transformation while others don’t. In the western and southern parts of the country, and in Punjab, Haryana, and western U.P, green revolution was encouraged and not in the eastern parts of the country. It is because of this we find, agriculture quite undeveloped in the states of Bihar, eastern U.P. and in Telangana.
• With time, nothing changed, as ‘feudal’ agrarian structure still existed. Lower castes, landless workers and small cultivators continued to rule by the landed castes and landlords who asserted their power on them. This only led to the rise in the various kinds of violence.
• It was suggested that ‘scientific’ farming methods lead to more production like the use of HYV seeds, but a number of scientists and farmers’ movements now think that the traditional method of farming like the use of organic seeds and different methods of cultivation was more beneficial to the environment and for the positive social impact.
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