1 May 2017

India’s Green Revolution: Same same but different

Lauriane writes:*

The Food and Agriculture Organisation explains the Green Revolution to be “an explicit strategy for technology development and diffusion targeting poor farmers in poor countries [which] made improved germ plasm freely available as a public good” (FAO, 2005 [pdf]). In India, this strategy was implemented between 1967 and 1878. To secure the success of this movement, high investments needed to be made in agriculture research, machinery, chemicals and market development. In India, as in most nations globally, these financial supports were provided by the corresponding elites and the State. The latter were and are, still not to be seen working the land: each individual’s role is well defined under India’s cast system. The Green Revolution was sponsored by the Rich and exercised by the Poor, with undeniable differences in the benefits obtained on each side. The question here is whether a national development program can in fact, narrow the gap between the rich and the poor if it embedded in the country’s institutions?

Thanks to the Green Revolution, the country achieved its record agriculture output in 1978, making it “the world's biggest agricultural producers” IndiaOneStop. This, in alliance with an expanding manufacture industry for chemicals and improved infrastructures, led to an economic boom in India which experienced GDP growth of 7.9% in 1975. However, GDP per capita remained relatively constant. This might have been induced by India’s drop in its annual population growth by 0.4 percent between 1971 and 1977, which potentially encouraged the shift of the land in the hands of fewer wealthy farmers, born and protected by the higher casts.

Bottom Line: The Green Revolution led to more food, but formal and informal institutions kept that food from turning into economic growth and development.

* Please comment on these posts by students in my growth & development economics course. It really helps if you highlight unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data, etc.