The Green Revolution, agrarian productivity and labor


The use of Green Revolution inputs has been responsible for higher levels of agrarian productivity in India. This is both because of the biological structure of high‐yield varieties of seeds themselves and because of the structure of the agrarian political economy in the country. But the question is: have the laborers benefited from the rise in productivity made possible by the use of these inputs? I have shown, both conceptually and empirically, that laborers do gain from higher productivity, but not uniformly over space. They gain more where they are more organized. This means that the relation between productivity and wages is, in part, a political relation, and the strength of this relation is characterized by ‘spatial inconstancy’. I have also discussed how the Green Revolution has tended to undermine the relations of personal dependence between the landed and the laborers, and this seems to have helped labor organization to some extent. Labor organization is also affected by the structure of land/asset distribution. In particular, whether or not laborers possess some land/asset makes a difference to the effectiveness of laborers’ bargaining power with landowners over wages, and therefore, to the actual level of wages being paid.