Green Revolution in India: Importance, Impact, Objectives

By Devyani Singh|Updated : August 25th, 2022

Norman Borlaug embarked on the Green Revolution project in the 1960s. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work and contribution to the development of High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of wheat, earning him the title of "Father of the Green Revolution" throughout the world.

M.S. Swaminathan was primarily the driving force behind the Green Revolution in India. Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the introduction of new, high-yielding variety seeds into emerging countries led to a significant increase in the production of food grains (particularly wheat and rice). Mexico and the Indian subcontinent were the locations of its initial pathbreaking achievements.

India's status from a country of food deficiency was changed to a leading agricultural nation because of the Green Revolution. The topic is important under the environmental issues and hence an important topic for your UPSC exam preparation. This article explains the important details of the Green Revolution, its meaning and salient features, its impact and its importance on the Indian economy. You will also know about various schemes under the Green Revolution in India.

Table of Content

What is the Green Revolution?

The Green Revolution was brought to India by the visionary MS Swaminathan. This was a method to increase the agricultural production of the country by the incorporation of modern techniques and tools. Some of the popular techniques developed under this program were the use of high-yielding variety seeds, tractors, irrigational facilities, pesticides, and fertilizers.

There was a desperate need to shift the focus from the expansion of the farming areas, as our government had been doing, to the development of the agricultural sector. This was because there was a population boom which left food production behind. There was a need for immediate action for increasing the total yield. This was fixed by the introduction of the Green Revolution in India.

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Background of Green Revolution in India

The conception of the Green Revolution in India has an interesting history. Below, the points have been listed chronologically for a better understanding of the concept:

  • The year 1943 saw India struggling immensely as the country recorded its worst ever; the Bengal Famine. This calamity resulted in the death of nearly 4 million people in the eastern parts of India due to starvation.
  • Independence in 1947 did not bring much respite as til 1967, the government majorly focused on increasing the farming areas. However, with the population growing at a rapid scale, the production rate of food was unable to keep up with it causing a deficit. This was very alarming.
  • This needed immediate and swift intervention. The Green revolution came into the picture as a relief to aid the county from falling into a state of inflation and starvation.
  • The green revolution in India came as a period of reform in Indian Agricultural practices. The practice changed into a more result-oriented industrial system by its adoption of modern methods and techniques that focused on increasing yield. Some of the important practices under this were the use of HYV seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • This program was aided by the Governments of India and the USA along with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.
  • The Green Revolution in India has been largely called the Wheat Revolution because of the hike in the production of wheat. The production increased by three times between the years 1967-68 and 2003-04.

Objectives of the Green Revolution

The objectives of the Green Revolution are as follows:

  • During the second Five Year Plan, this revolution was introduced with a fixed goal, to resolve India's hunger crisis, which was its short-term objective.
  • The revolutions' long-term objective was to target the overall picture of agricultural modernisation backed by rural development, industrial development and infrastructure, raw material etc.
  • Generation of employment for agro-based and industrial workers.
  • The production of stronger plants that could survive extreme weather climates and diseases.
  • Increasing the spread of technology to non-industrialised regions and establishing corporations in major agricultural areas.

Basic Elements of the Green Revolution in India

There are three main basic elements of the Green Revolution in India. They have been discussed briefly below:

  • Farming area expansion: Since 1947, the Indian government has been focusing on this issue because demand for agricultural land is still expanding quickly while supply cannot keep up. The Green Revolution helped by quantitatively increasing the amount of cropland, which demonstrated its value.
  • Double-Cropping system: This was one of the main components of the Green Revolution, the double-cropping system. In the past, there was one crop season per season. The goal was to replace the current one crop season with two. The initial "one season per year" experiment was predicated on the assumption that it rained once every year. The new irrigation projects provided the water for the second cycle. Dams being built along with other simple irrigation techniques being adopted handled the water crisis.
  • Using seeds with improved genetics: This evolved into the Green Revolution's scientific component. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research has created updated high-yield variety seeds. Most commonly, this procedure was used with grains like wheat, rice, millet, and corn.
  • Major Crops in the Revolution:

    • The main crops were Rice, Wheat, Jowar, Maize and Bajra.
    • The new strategy did not include non-food grains.
    • Wheat became the focal point of the Green Revolution for years.

The Impact of the Green Revolution on India

The Green Revolution impacted India in great ways that were both positive and negative. These points have been discussed below in detail.

Positive Impacts of Green Revolution

This movement impacted the country in great ways that were not just limited to the increased food production.

Great Increase in Crop Produce: India became one of the largest agricultural producers in the world in 1978-1979 thanks to 131 million tonnes of food produced in just one year.

  • During the Green Revolution, a significant increase in crop area was given to high-yielding wheat and rice types.

Reduction in Import of Food Grains: India, once a struggling nation, has now reached a point where it is more than self-reliant in food grains. India occasionally produced enough grains for food.

Beneficial for the Farmers: The implementation of the Green Revolution has considerably benefited farmers by increasing their income levels and subsequently elevating their standard of living.

  • Farmers who owned more than 10 hectares of land benefited the most from this revolution since they could afford to spend a lot of money on HYV seeds, fertiliser, equipment, etc. This promoted commercial farming as well.

Increased Industrial Growth: This Revolution paved the way for extensive farm industrialization and mechanisation. As a result, there was a hitherto unmet need for various types of machines, such as tractors, harvesters, pumping units, threshers, diesel engines, combines, electric motors, etc.

  • The need for chemical fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, weedicides, and other agrochemicals expanded significantly along with the mechanical requirements.

Creation of Rural Employment: The need for labour expanded significantly as a result of the bigger cultivable lands and more opportunities.

  • As a result of the creation of linked infrastructure like hydroelectric power plants and factories, the Green Revolution generated a large number of jobs that were not simply limited to the agricultural sector but also extended to the industrial workforce.

Negative Impacts of Green Revolution

Every coin has two faces to it. The revolution was greatly beneficial for the economy and the condition of the country in general but it also brought some newer problems.

Non-Food Grains: Wheat, rice, jawar, bajra, and maize were among the food grain crops that saw substantial work during the revolution. Other non-grain crops, like pulses, coarse cereals, and oilseeds, were not included in the scope of this revolution.

  • Commercially-benefitting crops like cotton, tea, jute, and sugarcane were so heavily excluded from the Green Revolution that they essentially escaped unaffected.

Limited Gamut of HYVP: Only five crops can now use the High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP) technology: wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and maize. The HYV seeds for the non-food grain crops were not initially developed, and those that were were not sufficiently promising for the farmers to take a chance on their adoption.

Regional Disparities: The rise in gaps in economic development at various levels was one of the main drawbacks of the Green Revolution technology.

  • Only 40% of the overall cultivated area has been impacted thus far, while 60% is still unaffected.
  • Punjab, Haryana, and the western portions of Uttar Pradesh in the north, and Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the south, were the regions most severely impacted.
  • The Eastern area, including the states of Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa, has escaped its reach. Western and southern India's dry and semi-arid regions have also received little attention.
  • Positively, but only to the extent that it did, the Green Revolution had an impact on agriculturally superior regions.
  • As a result, the Green Revolution has made the issue of regional inequality even worse.

Unrestrained Use of Chemicals: The encouraged widespread use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and pesticides to enhance crop variety and irrigation projects is another long-term impact that the nation is now suffering from. Almost nothing was done to sensitize the farmers about the high-risk elements connected to the heavy usage of pesticides.

  • The farmers used pesticides without following the right directions or safety procedures.
  • Crops suffered more damage as a result than benefits. Additionally, the environment and soil were greatly polluted by this.

Water Depletion: The crops that were developed during the green revolution required a lot of water.

  • Most of the crops that were introduced during the revolution required water at levels close to 50% of the dietary water footprint.
  • The groundwater levels needed to support crops like rice and sugarcane, which require large amounts of water, were also impeded by the construction of canal systems and irrigation pumps.
  • Punjab is one of the most water-scarce provinces in India because it is a significant wheat and rice-growing region.

Effects on Soil and Crop Production: In order to secure more crop yield, the crop cycle was repeated, depleting the soil's nutrients.

  • To accommodate the demand for new varieties of seeds, farmers had to increase their usage of fertilisers.
  • Because of the frequent use of these alkaline chemicals, the pH level of the soli also rose.
  • The harmful compounds in the soil eliminated helpful pathogens. The yield further decreased as a result of this.

Unemployment: Despite the green revolution's huge promises of employment, it massively increased unemployment because of its mechanisation, which diminished the demand for human labour. Except for Punjab, agricultural labourers in rural areas were affected by this loss to some extent. This had a particularly negative impact on the working poor and landless labourers.

Health Pitfalls: The widespread use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides like phosphamidon, methomyl, phorate, triazophos, and monocrotophos has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, stillbirths, renal failure, and birth deformities.

Government Schemes Under Green Revolution in India

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the go-ahead for the three-year, 2017-2020, Umbrella Scheme Green Revolution-Krishonnati Yojana in the agriculture sector. 33,269.976 crores are equal to the Central Share.

Eleven programmes are included in the Krishonnati Yojana to aid in and facilitate the accomplishment of its goals. All of these programmes have been designed to advance agriculture and related industries in a systematic and scientific manner. The main goal is to increase productivity, production, and returns on products while also facilitating production infrastructure, lowering production costs, and selling agricultural and related products in order to maximise farmers' revenue.

The 11 schemes that are part of the Umbrella Schemes under the Green revolution are:

  1. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
  2. National Food Security Mission (NFSM)
  3. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
  4. Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE)
  5. Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP)
  6. Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM)
  7. Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ)
  8. Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics, and Statistics (ISACES)
  9. Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC)
  10. Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM)
  11. National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A)

Green Revolution in India UPSC Questions

Green Revolution is a topic of great importance in the Indian context and hence, becomes important from the perspective of the UPSC exam. Get to know your grip on the topic by attempting these practice questions below that have been formulated according to the UPSC Pattern.

Question: Green Revolution in India was introduced in the 20th century during the decade of_______for adopting a new agricultural strategy.

  1. The 1960s
  2. The 1970s
  3. The 1950s
  4. The 1990s

Answer: B

Question: Who among the following used the term 'Evergreen Revolution' for increasing agricultural production in India?

  1. Norman Borlaug
  2. M.S Swaminathan
  3. Raj Krishna
  4. R.K.V Rao

Answer: B

Question: Consider the following statements

  1. Continued expansion of farming areas
  2. Double-cropping existing farmland
  3. Using seeds with improved genetics.

Which of the above statement (s) is/are not one of the three basic elements in the method of the Green Revolution?

  1. Only I
  2. Only II
  3. I and III
  4. None of the above

Answer: D

Green Revolution in India UPSC

Green Revolution was an important step in the development of this country's agrarian policies and it also kickstarted several reforms, making it a very relevant topic from the UPSC Syllabus perspective. It is a relevant topic to cover under the Environment sector and can be inquired about in UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains and optional subjects alike. Candidates should be prepared for questions from the topic's ambit by referring to appropriate UPSC books for the same.

Green Revolution in India UPSC Notes PDF

The green revolution is a topic that is both social and scientific in nature which makes the topic full of important and relevant factoids that any aspirant should commit to their memories. You can download our Green Revolution in India UPSC Notes PDF to brush up on your knowledge.

Download Short Notes on Green Revolution in India PDF

Other Important UPSC Notes
44th Constitutional Amendment42nd Amendment Act 1976
Women Freedom Fighters of India1st Session of the Indian National Congress
Article 164 of Indian Constitution13th BRICS Summit
7th Pay Commission ReportAdministrative Divisions of India
Administrative Reforms in IndiaAMRUT Scheme
Difference Between Urban and RuralCoastal States of India


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FAQs on Green Revolution in India

  • Second Green Revolution for Sustainable Livelihood. The first Green Revolution was to ensure food security as there was a severe scarcity of food in the country. The second Green Revolution aims at creating sustainable agriculture by leveraging advancements in technology.

  • The main features of the Green Revolution in India are:

    • Introduction of a new and high-yielding variety of seeds.
    • Increased use of fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides in order to reduce agricultural losses.
    • Increased application of fertilizers in order to enhance agricultural productivity.
  • M.S. Swaminathan, a plant geneticist, helped design and lead the Green Revolution, a huge development effort that in just a few years brought food self-sufficiency to India, which had suffered from deadly famines for decades.

  • One of the most significant contributors to the success of the Green Revolution was an American scientist named Norman Borlaug. In 1954, Borlaug, with funding from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, developed a genetically modified high-yielding variety (HYV) of wheat seeds.

  • Mexico has been called the 'birthplace' and 'burial ground' of the Green Revolution. It began with great promise and it has been argued that during the twentieth century two 'revolutions' transformed rural Mexico: the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) and the Green Revolution (1950–1970).

  • Tea is also called green gold. This is because of different reasons. One reason is that tea is considered very precious and is exported to many other parts.

  • India has made a huge achievement in terms of the Green Revolution, as it has provided an unprecedented level of food security. It has pulled a large number of poor people out of poverty and helped many non-poor people avoid the poverty and hunger they would have experienced had it not taken place.

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