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Impact of Green Revolution on


Widening Income Inequalities in
Punjab
Class Structure of Pakistan (POL 212)


5/10/2014
LAHORE UNIVERSITY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES
Mahira Suhail Maniar (14020425)


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Table of Contents

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3
Literature Review: .......................................................................................................................... 4
Overview of the Green Revolution ................................................................................................. 4
Class Analysis ................................................................................................................................. 6
Differing views on the impact of Green Revolution ....................................................................... 7
Causes of Unequal Distribution ...................................................................................................... 8
A. Economic Feasibility in terms of adoption of technology ................................................... 8
B. Credit Constraints ................................................................................................................ 9
C. Historical Power of Landed Elite ....................................................................................... 10
The Impact of Green Revolution on the Prevalent Class Structure: ............................................. 11
Conclusion:................................................................................................................................ 12
Work Cited .................................................................................................................................... 14











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Introduction

The Green Revolution of the mid 1960s, developed by Norman Borlaug and implemented
by the Ford Foundation, refers to the adoption of a new technology package to the agricultural
sector of developing countries. The Green Revolution was adopted in Pakistan under the regime
of Ayub Khan in the 1960s and was aimed at increasing farmer productivity, in order to counter
the shortage of food production and to increase self-sufficiency. Since the agricultural climates
of the provinces of Punjab and Sindh, along the Indus plain were more suited to the application
of new technology, and had a higher percentage of arable and cultivable land, these provinces
benefited the most from the new policy. This unequal distribution of the benefits of the Green
Revolution had profound economic and social consequences. Apart from creating regional
disparities, the Green Revolution led to a widening of rural income inequalities where the
incomes of the poor worsened and the incomes of the rich increased enormously.The land
owning class has remained in power since the colonial times where the relationship between the
colonial power and the landed class emerged out of mutual reliance and benefit, during the pre-
partition era. This paper will look into role of the state as an instrument for the development of
capitalism and delve further intohow Punjab, being the primary agriculture dominated province,
benefitted the greatest from the Green Revolution, where the benefits were unequally divided
between the rich landlords and the peasants. Even though incomes increased, the Green
Revolution was unable to deliver its potential benefits of reducing income disparities and
promoting self-sufficiency. The reasons for its careless performance in terms in creating income
inequalities will be further explored in this paper.


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Literature Review:

The impact of the Green Revolution on Pakistans economy has been studied by many
scholars in the past. The Green Revolution technology was first adopted by India in the early
1960s in the province of Punjab which was one of its most productive regions in terms of
agriculture. K. Griffin in his book, The political economy of agrarian change, an essay on the
Green revolution looks at the impact of the Green Revolution in agriculture in Asian countries.
He argues that the hybrid seeds have not led to an increase in agricultural production per head as
was promised, where the benefits of the Green Revolution are biased towards the wealthy
landowners and the more prosperous regions of the countries. Furthermore, in his book, Griffin
also talks about how the new technology has in fact, led to the polarization of social classes.
Donald Freebairnalso supports this view by looking into 300 studies on the Green Revolution
during 1970-1989. Peter Hazelland Pin Anderson also talk about how the Green Revolution
failed to reap the potential benefits such as self-sustenance for developing countries, and a
reduction in poverty. He also talks about the undesirable impact of the Green Revolution on the
institutions and policies of developing countries such as those mentioned above. Feder and
OMara also discuss the inability of the poor farmers to purchase the inputs on credit which
meant that they could not fully reap the benefits from the Green Revolution.
Overview of the Green Revolution

The new technology package that was brought in with the advent of the Green Revolution
required the timely application of a combination of HYV (High-Yield Variety) seeds, irrigation
water, pesticides and chemical fertilizers to arable land (Hussain 1). It provided a move towards
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commercialization of agriculture, which also included the mechanization of farms with the
introduction of tractors and tube wells. Irrigation was mostly facilitated through the installation
of tube wells in the areas of Punjab region where rainfall was low. The policies directed towards
agricultural development in Pakistan included heavy subsidies to agricultural inputs, availability
of credit, combined with modern technology such as fertilizers, pesticides, tube wells, new seeds
and tractors (Hanif et. al 39).This program was implemented in many countries in the developing
world, including Pakistans neighbor, India. In lieu of the famine and food crisis in India in 1961,
the technology package of the Green Revolution was adopted in the Indian Punjab to increase the
agricultural production and was soonimplement by Pakistan. The same program was
implemented in Pakistan where it was seen that the impact of the Green Revolution was
beneficial for Pakistans economy, leading to a three-fold increase in the yield of food grains
between the period of 1967 to 1992 (Burki86).

The decade of 1950s experienced an increase in food shortages, where the agricultural
output failed to keep pace with the annual population growth rate (Rahman 97). Between the
years 1949 and 1958, the annual population growth rate was 3%, whereas, the agriculture output
grew by a mere 1.43% (Rahman 97). Even though the industrial sector exhibited strong growth
patterns, the agricultural output growth rate remained very low. During this time, the new
scientific seeds were introduced in the developing countries by the Ford Foundation. This
revolution provided the much needed reforms for the agrarian economy and was slowly adopted
by the Ayubian regime to introduce capitalist farming into Pakistans agricultural sector
(Rahman 98). Aimed at improving farm productivity, the technology package of the Green
Revolution was such that it could majorly be taken up by the few wealthy large landowners who
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could afford the huge investment that this technology package required. This paper will analyze
how the members of the landed elite class were the primary beneficiaries of this program and
how income inequalities were worsened by the reforms that were brought about by the Green
Revolution.
Class Analysis

In his study of the East Elbian rural labor, Weber discusses the link between
rationalization/commercialization of agriculture and class relations. He argues that the advent of
capitalism leads to a breakdown of the traditional peasant rights (Wright 837). Weber discusses
that a rural working class was non-existent in pre-modern times due to the prevalence of the
communal arrangements in agriculture which did not provide the opportunity for the
development of common economic interests (63). Weber argued that a new class of agricultural
entrepreneurs enters with the advent of modern development practices, which might or might not
replace the landed aristocracy. Their aim is to commercialize agriculture, in a way similar to the
industrial entrepreneur by applying the economic concepts of rationalization to agricultural
production which involves profit maximization and cost minimization (ibid). This led to the
emergence of the rural proletariat where the principle of economic rationalization led to a
breakdown of the traditional communal system (ibid). Thus, the emergence of the rural
proletariat in agriculture represents a transformation in society, from a traditional, communal
organization of agriculture to a more rationalized organization of inputs, governed around the
principles of economic profitability and optimal combination of resources (ibid). The impact of
the Green Revolution will be analyzed in the light of Webers analysis of agrarian relations.

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Differing views on the impact of Green Revolution

Amidst the optimistic view of the Green Revolution existent in most of the literature
available, Burki breaks down the social and political consequences brought about by the advent
of capitalism in agriculture. He argues that the main beneficiaries of the Green Revolution in
Punjab were the middle class farmers who owned land ranging from 50 to 100 acres (Burki100).
Since they were the ones who benefitted majorly from the Green Revolution, this increased their
influence in the power politics in Punjab and gave them increasing local authority; thus, the
Green Revolution brought about the emergence of the capitalist farmer or the rural middle
classwhich reduced the power of the dominant landed aristocracy(Alavi 1).
Hamza Alavi regards the Green Revolution as a pure elite farmer strategy because in
theory, the strategy was aimed to benefit all farmers equally but in reality, the policy primarily
benefitted the large landholders who had dominant economic and political control (1).Alavis
analysis presents the view that the Green Revolution benefitted different strata of the rural
population rather disproportionately. Those farmers who owned small landholdings benefitted
less since they were unable to afford the high levels of investment needed to implement the
growth plan. Inflation caused a fall in real incomes of farmers and led to greater discontent
because they were unable to improve their farm output (Alavi31). Moreover, Alavi talks about
the indirect impact of the Green Revolution on farmers real incomes where the increase in
prices of manufactured goods led to inflationary tendencies in the economy and eroded the
purchasing power of salaried workers and farmers who were unable to benefit from the program.
The Green Revolution also resulted in a large scale sharecropper eviction as the large landowners
invested in the technology package and cultivated their own land (ibid). The installation of tube
wells and tractors reduced the tenant share in agriculture. Furthermore, since the mechanization
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reduced the need of hired labor, many workers lost their jobs and this contributed to a fall in
rural incomes and increase in unemployment.Thus, the Green Revolution widened economic
disparities and increased rural income inequalities.
A differing view of the impact of Green Revolution has been provided by
GhaffarChaudhry. He disregards all the arguments put forth by the afore-mentioned scholars and
argues that the Green Revolution was the most viable rural development strategy ever pursued
in Pakistan (Chaudhry 175). By providing evidence, he argues that even though small farmers
face financial hurdles, they have been at least as likely as large landholders in adopting the new
technology inputs brought about by the Green Revolution (ibid 177). The large landholders
spend more on luxury goods; whereas, the small farmers invest most of their incomes on
investment in farm productivity which proves that large landholders do not have an undue
advantage over small farmers as has been claimed by scholars such as Alavi. Moreover, this goes
on to prove that the modern development strategies did not have an adverse impact on the small
farmers.
Causes of Unequal Distribution

A. Economic Feasibility in terms of adoption of technology

Pakistan has the largest continuous irrigation system in the world, where 82% of its total
cultivable land comes under its intensive irrigation network (Akhtar 1).Thus, it plays a
significant role in the agrarian political economy since Pakistans economy is very dependent on
its irrigation system (Rahman 99). Canals were developed by the colonial state before
independence, which gave the provinces of Punjab and Sindh an unfair advantage over the rest.
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The technology package of the Green Revolution included the installation of tube-wells which
had a greater benefit in terms of productivity per hector for large farms. This meant that it was
not economically feasible for the farmers with small landholdings, usually less than 25 acres, to
benefit as much from it. (Rahman 99).
The Green Revolution encouraged mechanization of farms through the introduction of
tractors in Pakistan. Given the large size of the tractors, the use of tractors could only benefit
those farms which had landholdings greater than 25 acres. This meant that the benefits were
skewed towards large landowners, who could afford buying tractors and could extract greater
benefits from it. This lead to a substitution between labor and capital and small landowners were
unable to benefit from the use of tractors due to the small farm size (Qureshi 4).Due to a lack of
collateral assets; the small farmers were unable to borrow from credit institutions. As mentioned
by Feder and OMara, the adoption rates for the technology varied among the farmers and the
regions due to credit constraints since the working capital needed for the technology package
was comparatively higher (59).
The technology package required the timely application of a combination of HYV (High-
Yield Variety) seeds, irrigation water and chemical fertilizers to arable land. Due to credit
constraints, the small farmers were unable to adopt the HYV package at the same rate as large
farmers (Feder, OMara 59). Therefore, it can be observed that large wealthy landowners were
the primary beneficiaries of the Green Revolution.
B. Credit Constraints

The Five Firsts that were put forward by the Food and Agricultural Commission of 1960,
introduced the provision of heavily subsidized inputs to farmers which would make it
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economically feasible for small farmers to adopt the technology package. The irony of the
situation is that it was the wealthy landowners with large landholdings who were able to take
loans from the newly created credit institutions (Alavi 31).Since the wealthy peasants and
landlords had greater contacts and collateralized assets, they were able to negotiate better and
benefit from credit opportunities which meant that the take up rate of the technology package
was higher for the wealthy landlords (Mahmood 191).
C. Historical Power of Landed Elite

Even though the British had supported the peasantry in the North-Western Provinces due
to mutual gains initially, the 1857 mutiny led to a change of power politics, where the aftermath
of the war was such that it led to the co-optation of both the provinces landed aristocracy and
the self-sufficient proprietors (Javaid 353). The colonial state took the rebellion as a threat,
where they started viewing the marginalized peasantry as disloyal. This collaboration of the
colonial state with the ruling elite rather than the marginalized peasantry became the popular
mode of management after the 1857 mutiny (Kumar 2). The colonial government brought
changes to its policies, and the British government took over India and legitimized its rule.
Earlier on, the policies of the colonial state such as the Bentick-Macaualy-Dalhousie policy were
aimed to reduce the power of the despotic state; the aftermath of the 1857 war resulted in a move
towards a more conventional policy of ruling which preserved the natural practices, political
norms and social hierarchy of India(Kumar 1).The traditional practices of ruling came to be the
dominant mode of ruling, where the landed aristocracy became the focus of the British since they
were the traditional rulers of India. The power thus shifted towards the ruling elite, who
benefitted the most from the collaboration. The Taluqdars and the rulers of the princely states
received special treatment from the colonial power in return for their services (Kumar 8).
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Owing to the large scale expansion under British control where gradually, the whole of
India came under the rule of the colonial power, it had become physically difficult for the rulers
to monitor each state individually and to curb potential rebellions. Thus, collaboration with the
landed elite and the rulers in the princely states assisted the British in maintaining indirect
control over India. The relationship between the two parties was that of mutual assistance, where
the British made alliances to maintain effective economic surpluses, in exchange for state
benefaction as a return to the landed elite for their loyalty (ibid). The direct consequence of this
change in policy is still prevalent in modern day Punjab, where the landed class remains
powerful in the rural areas of Pakistan to date. This had led to an accumulation of land in the
hands of a few and has been a crucial factor in determining the influence of the landed class in
the modern day politics of Punjab. Since the members of the landed class remain powerful and
occupy influential roles in political arena, they have been able to manipulate government
policies, such as land reforms, that can impact their power.
The Impact of Green Revolution on the Prevalent Class Structure:

As it can be seen from the discussion above, the Green Revolution increased the income
disparities between the existing classes within Punjab. The land ceiling introduced by the land
reforms in1959 failed to have a significant impact on the size of the landholdings because the
landlords were able to find loopholes in the laws and they managed to retain their land by
transferring it to their relatives on paper (Khan 170).
The Green Revolution increased the dependence of the peasants on the landlords. The
landowners began to rent out land and commercialized their farms with mechanization and hired
labor. This led to an accelerated growth of the capitalist farming, where the agricultural
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entrepreneur emerged in the rural communities. The acceleration of the growth of
commercialized farming led to an increase in the social and financial dependence of the peasants
on the land owners. A major reason for this dependency was the existent political power of the
landlord or the landed elite which was exercised to maintain control and dominance. For
example, the local institutions remained under influence of the landlords. Since the credit
institutions set up by the government were more or less inaccessible to the landlords, the
peasants were forced to rely on the landlords for buying their basic farm inputs (Alavi 31). The
absence of market linkages and asymmetric information was a major contributor towards the
dependence of the peasant on the landlord. This led to cycles of bonded labor and debt traps for
the poor peasants, which worsened income inequalities.
Conclusion:

The Green revolution had wide-ranging benefits in increasing farmer productivity and
contributing towards the overall self-sufficiency of the farmers. It is extensively argued,
however, that the revolution resulted in increased income inequalities due to unequal distribution
of resources and biased political structures in Pakistan. The province of Punjab has historically
been rewarded due to its important strategic location which is well-suited for agriculture and
consequent wealth that it has produced. Punjab and Sindh benefited enormously from the
introduction of Green revolution, establishing the stronghold of these provinces over the power
structure of the country and reaffirming regional disparities. These policies hence contributed not
only towards increased grievances from other less fortunate regions but also widened the gap
between the rural poor and the landed elite who could easily afford the new technologies granted
under the program while the former remained alienated and dependent. Since credit facilities
provided by the government for the attainment of the latest technologies introduced under Green
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revolution were only available to a certain rich class, the poor peasant remained far from the
benefits of the program itself. This program was hence a contributing factor to the historical
deprivation of the poor peasant, and his inability to fall out of his viscous circle of poverty.
Therefore, Green revolution failed to contribute towards closing the gap of income disparities in
the country despite an overall impressive increase in productivity, due to these very unequally
focused policies.













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