2 1965 - 1977, the period of progress in agricultural production
In the mid-sixties, a considerable production increase took
place in agriculture due to the process known as "Green
Revolution." It consisted in the introduction of biological-technical
as well as mechanical-technical progress in the agrarian sector.
It was launched by the introduction of new wheat and rice
varieties, which had a considerably higher genetic yield potential
than the old local varieties. However, to exploit this potential,
complementary inputs, especially fertilizers, pesticides and
irrigation must be available. This.demand excluded non-irrigated
areas so that the level of prosperity between irrigated and
non-irrigated areas became more marked still.
The high production increases caused a rapid introduction
of the new varieties, beginning with the larger holdings.
But many smaller ones followed suit when they had overcome
difficulties in access to inputs, baking quality and taste
of the new varieties. Two bottlenecks occurred in the new
production process: lack and insecurity of irrigation water
and lack of draught power for the higher cropping intensity.
Within a few years, these bottlenecks were overcome by constructing
more than 100.000 tubewells and by purchasing an equal number
of tractors. This was made easy by heavy subsidies.
This wave of mechanization had far-reaching consequences:
the pressure to absorb the costs of mechanization and the
wish to realize new profit opportunities led to the dismissal
of numerous tenants and to a concentration in larger units
of operation. Draught animals, after tractorization, decreased
by 1.7 million from 1960 to 1980 and, therewith, one of the
most important reasons for the old sharecropping system -
decentralization of bullock-keeping and, thus, reduction of
risks - was no longer valid. At the same time, the traditional
50 : 50 share for the gross yield meant a very high pay for
labour because tenants supplied only their labour and yields
had increased considerably. As attempts to reduce the tenants'
share failed, lease was terminated and owner-cultivation wa.s
practised. Often, the cultivated area was expanded by renting
land from small farms which could not cope with the financial
demands of the new level of technology.
The technological changes led to considerable differentiations
regionally as well as between different strata. The main beneficiaries
were the owners of medium and especially large farms, whereas
the small farmers drew much less benefit. In many cases, tenants
and labourers even lost the basis of their existence.
With the emergence of a commercial type of agriculture,
the traditional nature of relations between groups of the
rural population changed. The common interest which all rural
inhabitants had hitherto in agriculture, which provided their
living, made way for increasing polarization of interests.
The former labour relations involving mutual obligations —
labour and loyalty against salary and welfare - were replaced
by contractual commitments. For sure, the old, institutionalized
mutual relationships were strongly one-sided, but they gave
the weak a certain basic security of existence while nowadays
those must live without this minimum social security.
However, the extensive dismissal of tenants did not lead
to mass poverty. This is attributed, in the first place, to
the prohibition of imports of combine-harvesters. Therefore,
during the harvest - with high pay - the landlords depended
upon casual labour which thus had income opportunities. Moreover,
many of the former tenants exchanged their bullocks for buffaloes
and thus could sell milk or ghee. This was the task of women
whereas men were free to seek work even in distant places.
Such jobs were offered to a growing extent. According to
the rule of the agrarian society: "If the farmer has
money, the whole world has money", the higher income
in agriculture and the higher marketing quantities led to
a strong increase in the demand for transportation, storage,
trade, construction, consumer goods, etc. so that the dismissed
tenants - after a period of transition -found a new means
of existence. While this was true for the majority, individual
people, especially of advanced age, experienced considerable
addition to new job opportunities in the service sector, numerous
places of work were created in the production of machinery
and implements, less in large-scale industries but mostly
in small-scale units along the highways and in the mandi towns.
The "Green Revolution" brought about a considerable
increase in the output per acre in irrigated areas and made
independent of grain imports. Thus, a price increase for staple
foods because of scarcity could be prevented. Since this technological
development of agriculture took place before an effective
agrarian reform - the second attempt of 1970 also yielded
but few results -, it only led to a consolidation of the prevailing
inequality among the rural population, to an increasing concentration
of land cultivation, to a polarization of social relations
and to migration of numerous people out of agriculture and
from the rural areas.
Since the increase in income of landowning families was
higher than that of other rural households, at the same time
fewer job opportunities were offered in the villages, many
of the landless migrated.
An industrial development took place to a very limited extent
only - apart from that of the rural service industries mentioned.
Quasi-socialistic experiments such as nationalization of industry
and banking and minimum wage laws turned out to be obstructive.
The main development occurred in small-scale industries and
rural towns. Large groups of rural population, especially
the lower class in rural areas, in their attempt to find new
opportunities became mobile to an extent unknown hitherto.
This change of residence also caused the observance of old
norms to diminish when selecting employment.
During that period of great, mainly positive changes, agriculture
had become more productive but also more liable to risks.
It now was irrevocably intertwined with other branches of
the economy and, therefore, dependent, among others, upon
the government and its development-, price- and subsidy policy.
As the government took back part of its preference for agriculture
in the mid-seventies and, simultaneously, the negligence in
expansion of plant breeding stations proved to be prejudicial,
the agricultural production experienced a set-back. The "Green
Revolution" has not launched an actual development of
agriculture but only raised production to a higher level.
Agriculture's task in society changed in comparison to former
- It still comprised the provision of food and raw materials,
was more successful now.
- Capital formation was utilized to a greater extent for
agriculture, that is, in its own sector.
- Procurement of foreign currency changed in type. Export
concentration on grain production but self-sufficiency substituted
- For the first time, agriculture was, to a large extent,
a market for non-
agricultural products and services and thus promoted the
- Slowly, labour was released from agriculture and land
was ceded for residential and small industrial enterprises.