​​​​​​1. A white touch to a refreshed green revolution; The Amul model, of a socio-economic enterprise, has immense potential to aid India’s crop-growing farmers

Context: November 26, 2021 was celebrated in Anand, Gujarat as the 100th birth anniversary of Verghese Kurien, the leader of India’s ‘white revolution’, which increased the incomes and the wealth of millions of cattle-owning small farmers in India, many of them women.

  • November 26, 2021 also marked one year from the day when thousands of crop-growing farmers, who have been the beneficiaries of the ‘green revolution’ which increased their incomes, began a non-violent protest to force the Indian government to withdraw the new laws it made to undo the policies of the green revolution.

The two Revolutions – varied purposes

 Green RevolutionWhite Revolution
PurposeThe purpose of the green revolution was to increase the output of agriculture to prevent shortages of food. The purpose of the white revolution was to increase the incomes of small farmers in Gujarat, not the output of milk.
MechanismThe green revolution was largely a technocratic enterprise driven by science and the principles of efficiency.Whereas, the white revolution was a socio-economic enterprise driven by political leaders and principles of equity.
VisionariesIn May 1962, M. S. Swaminathan, a member of IARI’s wheat program, requested of Dr. B. P. Pal, director of IARI, to arrange for the visit of Norman Borlaug to India and to obtain a wide range of dwarf wheat seed possessing the Norin 10 dwarfing genes.This slowly resulted in explosion in production. This led to highest increase in Food grains was in  80s decade.Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel had a vision of a cooperative movement of Gujarati farmers for increasing their incomes. Verghese Kurien  got enrolled in their visionary enterprise and how he became a servant of the farmers for whose sake the enterprise was created, and amongst whom he lived.Kurien and his engineering compatriots in the organisation were compelled to develop solutions indigenously when Indian policy makers, influenced by foreign experts, said Indians could not make it.
MethodologiesThe green revolution’s aim was to increase outputs by applying scientific breakthroughs with methods of management to obtain economies through scale.White revolution was more based on the socio-economic movement

Problems with Green Revolution:

  • It required inputs, like chemical fertilizers, to be produced on scale and at low cost. Therefore, large fertilizer factories were set up for the green revolution.
  • And large dams and irrigation systems were also required to feed water on a large scale.
  • Monocropping on fields was necessary to apply all appropriate inputs — seeds, fertilizer, water, etc., on scale. Focus on only one or two crops at a time enabled their outputs to be increased by avoiding diversion of land use to other “non-essential” crops. Monocropping increased the efficiency in application of inputs.
  • Thus, farms became like large, dedicated engineering factories designed to produce large volumes efficiently. Diversity in the products and processes of large factories creates complexity. Therefore, diversity is weeded out to keep the factories well-focused on the outputs they are designed for.
  • Similarly, in large-scale farms and plantations, any plants other than those the farm is designed to produce on scale are weeds.

The Success of White revolution:

  • Amul has become one of India’s most loved brands, and is respected internationally too for the quality of its products and the efficiency of its management.
  • It has successfully competed with the world’s largest corporations and their well-established brands.
  • Equity was key: Kurien repeatedly emphasises, the enterprise achieved its outcome of empowering farmers because the governance of the enterprise to achieve equity was always kept in the foreground, with the efficiency of its production processes in the background as a means to the outcome.

On productivity

  • Productivity is generally alienated from producers:  In large, modern factories, workers are only a means for producing outputs. Thus, ‘productivity’, when defined as output per worker, can be increased by eliminating workers. This may be an acceptable way to measure and increase productivity when the purpose of the enterprise is to increase profits of investors in the enterprise.
  • It is a wrong approach to productivity when the purpose of the enterprise is to enable more workers to increase their incomes, which must be the aim of any policy to increase small farmers’ incomes.

Way forward:

  1. Inclusion and equity in governance must be hardwired into the design of the enterprise. Increase in the incomes and wealth of the workers and small asset owners in the enterprise must be the purpose of the enterprise, rather than production of better returns for investors.
  2. The ‘social’ side of the enterprise is as important as its ‘business’ side. Therefore, new metrics of performance must be used, and many ‘non-corporate’ methods of management learned and applied to strengthen its social fabric.
  3. Solutions must be ‘local systems’ solutions, rather than ‘global (or national) scale’ solutions. The resources in the local environment (including local workers) must be the principal resources of the enterprise. The enterprise must be embedded in the local community from whom it gets its environmental resources, and whose well-being it must nourish by its operations.
  4. Science must be practical and useable by the people on the ground rather than a science developed by experts to convince other experts. Moreover, people on the ground are often better scientists from whom scientists in universities can learn useful science.
  5. Sustainable transformations are brought about by a steady process of evolution, not by drastic revolution. Like strong drugs to treat specific ailments, large-scale transformations imposed from the top can have strong side-effects too. They slowly weaken the patient’s health, as the scientific managerial solutions of the green revolution have harmed the soil and water resources of northern India.

Conclusion: The essence of democratic economic governance is that an enterprise must be of the people, for the people, and governed by the people too.


2. Births and rights: Laws on reproductive rights must recognize differences in orientation, relationship choices

Context: Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, that was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

About the ART Regulation Bill, 2020

  • Definition of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):  all techniques that seek to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (immature egg cell) outside the human body and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman. 
  • ART services would be allowed to be provided through:
    • (i) ART clinics, which offer ART related treatments and procedures, and
    • (ii) ART banks, which store and supply gametes. 
  • Regulation of ART clinics and banks:
    • National Registry of Banks and Clinics: Every ART clinic & bank must be registered under it. It will act as a central database with details of all ART clinics and banks in the country.  State governments will appoint registration authorities for facilitating the registration process. 
    • Condition for registration: Clinics and banks will be registered only if they adhere to certain standards (specialised manpower, physical infrastructure & diagnostic facilities). 
  • Conditions for gamete donation and supply: 
    • Registration necessary: Screening of gamete donors, collection and storage of semen, and provision of oocyte donor can only be done by a registered ART bank. 
    • Age of donor: A bank can obtain semen from males between 21 and 55 years of age, and oocytes from females between 23 and 35 years of age. 
    • Reproductive/marital status: An oocyte donor should be an ever-married woman having at least one alive child of her own (minimum three years of age). 
    • The woman can donate oocyte only once in her life and not more than seven oocytes can be retrieved from her. 
    • A bank cannot supply gamete of a single donor to more than one commissioning couple (couple seeking services). 
  • Rights of a child born through ART:  A child born through ART will be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and will be entitled to the rights and privileges available to a natural child of the commissioning couple.  A donor will not have any parental rights over the child. 
  • Regulation Boards: The National and State Boards for Surrogacy constituted under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 will act as the National and State Board respectively for the regulation of ART services. 
  • Offences and penalties would be imposed in following cases
    • Abandoning, or exploiting children born through ART,
    • Selling, purchasing, trading, or importing human embryos or gametes,
    • Using intermediates to obtain donors,
    • Exploiting commissioning couple, woman, or the gamete donor in any form, and
    • Transferring the human embryo into a male or an animal. 

Importance of the bill:

  • Need for regulation of fertility treatments: The time has indeed come for such a Bill; for government intervention to regulate the field of fertility treatments, and by seeking to establish a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals in the segment, it will fill a vacuum.
  • Protecting the rights of donors and children: It has provisions to protect the rights of the donors, the commissioning couple and the children born out of ART, to grant and withdraw licences for clinics and banks depending on performance factors.
  • Only altruistic donations – no profit is possible: It proposes to make it impossible for outlaws to operate within the system and profit from it, while exploiting patients.
  • End to illegal trafficking: It also plans to put an end to illegal trafficking in embryos, and mistreatment of the poor coerced by their circumstances into donating eggs or sperm.

Problems with the Bill:

  • Exclusivist at the very outset: It excludes two categories of citizen — LGBTQIA+ and single men from the benefits and rights that the law seeks to confer upon the people of the country.
  • Inequality in the Matter of reproductive rights: As citizens, these groups too have the right to exercise reproductive rights. The omission is particularly baffling considering that the legislation has made provisions for single women too, apart from a commissioning heterosexual couple.
  • Retrograde social norms followed

Reasons given behind the exclusion – View of the Parliamentary standing committee:

  • Moral view: ‘It would not be appropriate to allow live-in couples and same sex couples to avail the facility of ART’ citing the best interest of the child born through ART.
  • Argument from family structure: It also recorded that ‘given [the] Indian family structure and social milieu and norms, it will not be very easy to accept a child whose parents are together but not legally married’.
  • Drawing a parallel with surrogacy bill: Legislators have also pointed out that the Surrogacy Bill intrinsically connected with the ART Bill was pending in the Rajya Sabha, and that it would only be appropriate that both Bills be considered together before they are passed. 

Way forward: The purpose of a legislation should also be to nudge retrograde social norms out of their freeze-frames towards broader acceptance of differences and preferences. This has not happened.




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