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General Studies 2 >> International Relations

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1. Introduction 

  • The United States and the likes of Rockefeller and Ford Foundation played in India's agricultural development during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • This involvement through the establishment of agricultural universities and the Green Revolution, the US for strengthening the global strategic partnership between the two countries.

2. The first Agricultural University

  • In 1950, Major H.S. Sandhu, who led the reclamation of Uttar Pradesh's Tarai region and the state's Chief Secretary A.N. Jha visited the US and saw the land-grant universities there.
  • These institutions, set up on public land, engaged in agricultural education as well as research and extension activity.
  • This was unlike the agricultural and veterinary colleges in India that merely taught and produced graduates.
  • Research and extension (training farmers in adopting scientific cultivation practices) were largely left to the state agricultural departments.
  • As a result, a US land-grant model agricultural university which integrated teaching, research and extension was established in the densely-forested Tarai area near the Himalayan foothills, being reclaimed and converted for farming.
  • Such as the university would provide an environment more conducive to learning, purposeful and problem-solving research and knowledge dissemination to farmers.
  • The state government made available 14, 255 acres of land and in December 1958 passed the UP Agricultural University Act.
  • The UP Agricultural University was inaugurated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on November 17, 1960.
3. Relationship with US land-grant universities
  • Hannah's blueprint was published by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and circulated to interested state governments.
  • It led to as many as eight agricultural universities coming up within eight years, mostly at the initiative of the chief ministers themselves.
  • Tarai was predominantly refugees from West Punjab's canal colonies who knew the benefits the Lyallpur Agricultural College had brought to the lands, now in Pakistan.
  • All eight universities received the US Agency for International Development’s assistance for the training of faculty and the provision of equipment and books.
  • Each was further linked to a US land-grant institution, whose specialists were involved in curriculum design and putting in place research and extension systems in the new universities.
  • The universities were to have their research farms, regional stations and substations, and seed production facilities (G.B. Pant University, from 1969, also began marketing its seeds under the ‘Pantnagar’ brand).

4. The Seeds of the Green Revolution 

  • Traditional wheat and rice varieties were tall and slender. They grew vertically on the application of fertilizers and water, while lodging (bending over or even falling) when their ear-heads were heavy with well-filled grains.
  • The Green Revolution entailed breeding semi-dwarf varieties with strong stems that did not lodge.
  • These could tolerate high fertilizer application. The more the inputs (nutrients and water), the more the output (grain) is produced.
In 1949, an American Biologist S.C. Salmon stationed in Japan under US occupation after World War II identified a wheat variety developed at an experimental station there. Called "Norin-10", its plants grew to only 2-2.5 feet, as against the 4.5 -5 feet height of traditional tall varieties. Salmon took Norin-10's seeds and gave them to Orville Vogel, a wheat breeder at the Washington State University, Pullman.
  • Vogel crossed Norin-10 with locally-grown US winter wheat. From those crosses, one variety giving 25% higher grain yields was selected in 1956 and released as ‘Gaines’. Vogel also shared the seeds of Norin-10 and his original crosses with Norman Borlaug, working with the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico.
  • Borlaug, in turn, crossed these with the spring wheat grown in Mexico.
  • By 1960-61, many varieties incorporating the Norin-10 dwarfing genes in a spring wheat background were released.

5.1. Seeds came to India

  • Around 1957-58, M.S. Swaminathan, then a barely 33-year-old scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, saw a paper on the Norin-10 genes by Vogel in the American Agronomy Journal.
  • He wrote to Vogel for the seeds of ‘Gaines’. Vogel responded but noted that ‘Gaines’, being winter wheat, wouldn’t flower in Indian conditions.
  • He directed him to Borlaug, whose spring wheats containing the dwarfing genes were better suited for the country.
  • Swaminathan got in touch with Borlaug, who came to India only in March 1963, following a request placed to the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • He sent the seeds of four Mexican wheat varieties bred by him were first sown in the trial fields of IARI and the new agricultural universities at Pantnagar and Ludhiana.
  • By 1966-67, farmers were planting these on a large scale and India, from being an importer, turned self-sufficient in wheat.
  • Much of its wheat imports earlier, ironically, came from the US under its Public Law 480 food aid programme.

6. Reasons for the US Help India

  • Borlaug’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico was primarily funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • The latter, along with the Ford Foundation also supported the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
  • Both institutions contributed significantly to trebling and quadrupling grain yields, even as India, by the seventies and early eighties, had built a robust indigenous crop breeding programme thanks to investments in the ICAR and state agricultural universities system.
  • The Cold War geopolitics and great-power rivalry of those times. It resulted in competition to do good, extending to “fighting world hunger” and sharing of knowledge and plant genetic material that was viewed as “global public goods”.
  • India, contrary to popular perception, wasn’t aligned to either bloc at least till the sixties.
  • The strategy of “non-alignment” paid off then, just as “multi-alignment” is today.

For Prelims: Green Revolution, India-USA relations, Soviet Union, ICAR, Cold War, non-alignment, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, IARI, Agricultural University, Norin-10, 
For Mains:
1.  Discuss the seed of the Green Revolution in India. Explain the Indo-us relationship in Agriculture. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Which one of the following most appropriately describes the nature of Green Revolution of the late sixties of 20th century? (BPSC 64TH CCE 2018)
A. Intensive cultivation of green vegetable
B. Intensive agriculture district programme
C. High-yielding varieties programme
D. Seed-Fertilizer-Water technology
E. None of the above/More than one of the above
Answer: E
2. Green revolution is related to _________. (SSC MTS 2019) 
A. Production of milk
B. Production of jute
C. Production of coffee
D. Production of wheat
Answer: D
3. The Soviet Union broke down in the year _______. (SSC GD 2019)
A. 1991
B. 1880
C. 2000
D. 1900
Answer: A
4. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was first reorganized in: (MP Patwari 2017) 
A. 1956
B. 1965
C. 1969
D. 1972
Answer: B
Source: The Indian Express

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