ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

India’s Green Revolution and Beyond

Visioning Agrarian Futures on Selective Readings of Agrarian Pasts

The widely accepted “success” of India’s green revolution in making the country self-sufficient in foodgrains has made it the model for all agrarian futures envisioned in the country. This article argues that this vision of the future is based on a selective understanding of India’s agrarian past as backward and needing redemption. There is inadequate evidence to support the claim that India was food-insecure in the 1960s. Moreover, evidence suggests that India’s food and nutritional insecurities today are the aftermath of the green revolution strategy promoted since the 1960s. This article is a small contribution towards comprehensively outlining that past so that we can begin to imagine a new vision for India’s agrarian future.


The author acknowledges the valuable comments and support from Naveen Thayyil, Pankaj Sekhsaria, A R Vasavi, Rajeswari Raina, Jonathan Harwood, Harro Maat, Reetika Khera, Shubham Bhardwaj, Charles Weiss, Sudha Nagavarapu, Sourabh Paul, Ankush Agrawal and the editors of the EPW.


Policymakers have often drawn up a vision of India’s agrarian future through the lens of technological revolutions, whether an ever green revolution (PTI 2017) or a second green revolution (Singh 2011). Drawing upon the language of productivity, they have recalled the original green revolution of the 1960s that is supposed to have brought forth a bounty of food, thanks to high-yielding seeds of wheat and, eventually, rice. Popular narratives suggest that India was saved from the brink of famine and destitution and that the green revolution averted a humanitarian disaster (Rajagopal 2016).

This productivity-centred paradigm consolidated as part of the green revolution has continued to be the model for all agrarian futures envisioned in the country (Raina 2015). Unfortunately, this has meant pushing for a strategy that requires extensive control over the environment. Rather than using a wide range of seed varieties across multiple crops that would fit into different agroecological niches, the monoculture model of the green revolution has promoted re-engineering of the environment to fit the needs of the single chosen seed variety—whether through plant breeding or genetic engineering.1

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 28th Aug, 2019
Back to Top