The Green Revolution and Poverty in Northern Tamil Nadu: a Brief Synthesis of Village-Level Research in the Last Half-Century

Working Paper
  • Published 17/12/20

Between 1972 and 2014, in Northern Tamil Nadu, India,
the Green Revolution in agriculture was studied through five
rounds of village-level studies. Over the decades, the number
of villages dwindled; from 11, rigorously and randomly
selected (together with a ‘Slater’ village first studied in 1916),
through to a set of three villages in a rural–urban complex
around a market town, to one of the original eleven, in the
fifth round. During the reorganisation of districts in 1989, the
villages sited on the Coromandel plain shifted administratively
from North Arcot, a vanguard Green Revolution district, to
Tiruvannamalai, described then as relatively backward. A wide
range of concepts, disciplines, scales, field methods and
analytical approaches were deployed to address i) a common
core of questions about the economic and social implications
of technological change in agriculture and ii) sets of other
timely questions about rural development, which changed
as the project lengthened. Among the latter was poverty.

In this paper, this corpus of research is revisited to reinterpret
how poverty was theorised and analysed, and to synthesise
and compare the findings. The extensive scope of poverty
concepts and processes studied over the decades constitutes
the appendix.