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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘India’s Green Revolution and Cold War Narratives’, 20th May, 2015.

‘India’s Green Revolution and Cold War Narratives’

Dr. Prakash Kumar,
Pennsylvania State University,


The historiography of American role in India’s “green revolution” is deep and enduring. Historians duly considered the nature of American pressure brought on India through the former’s food aid policies in the 1960s and the role that such persuasion played in India’s march towards HYV (high yield variety seeds) agriculture. Recent accounts of global histories of the green revolution have introduced new elements into the historiography, which characterizes U.S.-India contacts in the field of agriculture as benign. Over the last decade or so such a perspective has assumed the status of a revisionist account. This paper challenges that narrative by materializing the history of U.S. food aid and gesturing towards the harnessing of political role by certain interest groups connected with agriculture in the United States. Using new material from the archives of the United States Department of Agriculture and regional archives this paper re-analyses the motives of interest groups that saw potential for specific interventions in India. It disaggregates those groups among legislators, the representatives of trade groups and corporations, and farming lobbies to assess their respective motives in India in order to highlight efforts made at seeking political outreach and economic advantage.


Dr. Prakash Kumar is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University, USA. His interest lies in agricultural history and "development" in colonial and postcolonial South Asia. He is the author of Indigo Plantations and Science in Colonial India, 2012. He is currently working on two book projects, one on the history of social movements against GM crops in India, and another on a global history of the green revolution in India that argues against the grain of the accepted narrative that “green revolution” agriculture, with its focus on aggregate yield increase, mitigated the problem of hunger.

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