The Green Revolution of the 1960s would remain in the annals of the globe as the most positive achievement of humankind after the destructive world wars, the Holocaust, detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the great Bengal famine of 1943-1944. To India, in particular, the backdrop of the Bengal famine did not augur well when it attained independence in August 1947. This led to the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, declaring that ‘everything else can wait, but not agriculture.’ The task ahead of the agricultural scientists was immense, because the goal was to enhance the productivity in terms of kg per hectare rather than the total production by bringing more of forestland under cultivation. Increasing the area under irrigation was yet another approach to achieve more total production, and this also was done. There is certainly a limit to increasing land under cultivation and tapping all sources of irrigation. Further, the Indian agriculture is a ‘gamble in the monsoon’. The ideal approach was to increase the productivity (kg/ha) of the crops by making them more responsive to external inputs of inorganic mineral fertilizers commonly referred to as N, P, K (viz. nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium respectively). Inorganic nitrogen fertilizer was particularly important. Yet, it was not simple to saturate the soil with inorganic nitrogen fertilizers as the Indian varieties of
wheat and rice (i.e. the two staple food crops) with their characteristic tall stalks (stem) and dense and long panicles lodged (i.e. fell back) under the increased weight of the grains. So, an appropriate plant type would be dwarf/semi-dwarf plants with panicles of normal length.