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reasons for the old sharecropping system - decentralization of bullock-keeping and, thus, reduction of risks - was no longer valid.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 hardships. In

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 times.

  • It still comprised the provision of food and raw materials, and agriculture
    was more successful now.
  • Capital formation was utilized to a greater extent for investments into
    agriculture, that is, in its own sector.
  • Procurement of foreign currency changed in type. Export shortened with
    concentration on grain production but self-sufficiency substituted for the
    import requirements.
  • For the first time, agriculture was, to a large extent, a market for non-
    agricultural products and services and thus promoted the expansion of
    those sectors.
  • Slowly, labour was released from agriculture and land was ceded for residential and small industrial enterprises.