Thursday, March 31, 2011


Some times it is very difficult to discern what is true in floods of statements eulogizing a person or a development for some visible short term gain. The Green Revolution (GR) in Asia, supposed to be engineered by Dr Norman Borlaug has been acclaimed as the most significant achievement of man in the last century and India was also supposed to have been benefited by the break-through in agriculture technology that ensured increased supply of Rice and Wheat. How ever GR could not succeed in making any impact on the production of pulses and oil seeds in which the country is still stagnating. That aside, recent attempts by some world bodies to encourage replicating the GR in North Easter Region (NER) is attracting genuine criticism which must be addressed before GOI invests its resources, obviously to please the local people from political angle. The most severe criticism of GR is about the chemical intensive nature of the cultivation practice and predominant shifting from multi-culture to mono culture cultivation, causing severe damage to millions of acres of fertile land in the country and no amount of "repair" can restore the soil to its original health. Who is going to answer to this serious apprehension? Those, who glorify themselves year after year for past "achievements", setting up tax sheltered foundations, for research in their name, acquiring national and international grants, accept innumerable "awards" showered on them, serve in umpteen number of Babu-dominated committees at Delhi to give politically convenient recommendations, must be held accountable and responsible for thousands of farmer suicides during last two decades.

Economic Survey 2011 too suggests strengthening Green Revolution in eastern India as the probable route to increase food production. The other day I heard Ashok Gulati of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) saying on the TV that extending Green Revolution to eastern India would provide a sustained supply of surplus food for the next 30 years or so. Well, if you followed the work of IFPRI, this shouldn't come as a surprise. IFPRI is essentially a PR agency for agribusiness industry masquerading as a research institute. Green Revolution has already played havoc with the intensively farmed regions in India. The use and abuse of chemical inputs have already taken a heavy toll. Soils are poisoned, environment is contaminated, aquifers have gone dry, and the resulting the food chain has become unhealthy. The devastation wrought by the NPK model of agriculture, and the unwanted application of chemical pesticides, have in many ways caused a kind of a Holocaust that remains hidden from public glare. The destruction that Green Revolution has inflicted has been deliberately kept under wraps. In fact, the large number of farmer suicides that we witness in India -- more than 250,000 in the past 15 years -- are actually the outcome of the failure of Green Revolution. We are now hell bent on extending the great tragedy of Green Revolution to the hitherto verdant lands and people of eastern India.

The critics are right in pleading that NER, one of the most fertile land areas remaining untouched by GR must be spared the agony of long term adverse consequences which can drive more farmers to suicide. Recent banning of Jhum cultivation in some parts of NER, with government encouragement and financial support may push the farmers to GR practices which will also be heavily subsidized by the government and one can imagine the consequences to future generation in that region. Why are the politicians, "scientific politicians", bureaucrats sitting at Delhi ignoring the writing on the wall and spare the poor farmers from the agony of future depredations? Will sanity prevail before it is too late? One can only hope so!

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