Sunday, 22 December 2013

Contrarian View On Green Revolution

I like contrarian views and personalities.

In fiction, characters that portray something different and defy the routine enliven the story. As a writer, one would like to weave plots around contrarian characters. But those seldom come. In the media you read / see the same viewpoints, the same stories, the same staid positions. There is general dumbing down of readers/viewers. Mundane stuff is played over and over.

But then, a contrarian view does come; and brings in a refreshing moment, a moment that prods you to change your long held beliefs. One such moment came when I read about the green revolution. The green revolution is one progression that came to us in our school textbooks, newspapers and other media, all with undertones of pride and accomplishment. For example, here is its mention in my daughter's 9th class economics textbook --
After independence, Indian policy makers adopted all measures to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains. India adopted a new strategy in agriculture, which resulted in the Green Revolution especially in the production of wheat and rice.
Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, officially recorded the impressive strides of the Green revolution in agriculture by releasing a special stamp entitled 'Wheat Revolution' in July 1968. The success of wheat was later replicated in rice. The increase in foodgrains was, however, disproportionate. The highest rate of growth was achieved in Punjab and Haryana, where foodgrain production jumped from 7.23 million tonnes in 1964-65 to reach an all-time high of 30.33 million tonnes in 1995-96.
Image courtesy : Kanad Sanyal

However, when I read the following passages from the article "Drift in Agriculture Research" in The New Indian Express dated 20-Nov-2013 by international agricultural scientist K P Prabhakaran Nair, I get a very different perspective --
I have been closely following the so-called green revolution, euphemistically called thus, for a high-input industrial type of agriculture, transplanted on Indian fields, which had nothing truly "green" about it (the term itself was originally coined by an American scientist working for the US Department of Agriculture, USDA for short, surreptitiously lifted by someone here, which became a household term subsequently) that in essence was nothing but a combination of a short type of wheat (again imported from the International Research Centre for Maize and Wheat Research {CIMMYT} in Mexico), unbridled use of chemical fertilisers, water and pesticides. And the adverse environmental fallout is all there for one to see. Please go to Punjab the "cradle" of the green revolution, the reader will understand what I say here.
The article is about what is wrong with our agriculture research and what should be done for making it more useful. On the green revolution the author further writes:
Both USDA and CAAS have made spectacular contributions to agricultural science. The spectacular fundamental research in soil science of USDA and the American varsities and the hybrid rice of CAAS are just two examples. And what do we have to show to the world except a failed "green revolution"?
I think over a period of time, our school textbooks will have to be revised on this matter.

1 comment:

  1. Good one, I think even our text books are not left out from hailing congress (Indira Gandhi) and it's acts :)
    Recently I read somewhere that text books are getting revised (Below link for inter, I hope they do that more often for other lower class, as the foundation is laid there and it should be truthful and strong)

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/revised-inter-first-year-textbooks-released/article3477390.ece

    ReplyDelete