ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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White Revolution in India Myth or Reality

White Revolution in India: Myth or Reality? J George ALTHOUGH the debate on the White Revolution is now a decade old, a new impetus has been provided by the recent recommendations of the Jha Committee Report which however have to be viewed with caution. It is therefore commendable that the EPW has been providing a nonpartisan and active platform to the contributors (Nair June 22-29, 1985; George, Shanti December 7, 1985; May 31 and June 7, 1986; Achaya and Huria September 13, 1986; and finally Baviskar and George, Shanti November 1-8, 1986) at regular intervals. George, Shanti (1985, 1986) and Baviskar and George (1986) have among a host of issues, repeatedly drawn attention towards methodological flaws in most of the studies on Operation Hood (OF). But they have been silent on Nair' article (1985) which has several methodological flaws is not surprising. I would like to examine afresh, in this rejoinder to Nair, the complex facts and issues of both the phases of OK I would like to begin by pointing out that Melloi's article (1964), referred to by Nair, is almost two decades old and does not discuss trie major developments in the methodology of milk production estimation. Inasmuch as Mellor discusses only two attempts made at estimating milk production in the fifties, one has to look for more material on the subject for better comprehension.1 As rightly pointed out by Nair, the estimates of milk production made by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOAg), following the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) methodology since 1977-78, are in fact an overestimate in order to present a better picture of the sector's performance. He is merely echoing what Whyte (1968; 108) had to say nearly two decades ago, 'The official claim, namely, that sufficient milk is produced. . . does not bear detailed examination an J is only for prestige presentation at international conferences". In a similar indictment recently the Parliamentary Committee on Public Undertakings in its 11th report las expressed grave doubts about the reliability of available statistics in regard to increase in milk production. Further, the figures used are for total bovine milk production. The absence of categorisation into cow and buffalo milk with relevant statistics in the estimates of MOAg since 1977-78 makes them incomparable with the MOAg's earlier estimates and to that extent analytically less useful (George 1985b). On the other hand, there is more than one estimate of milk production for 1972 released by the MOAg (George 1983). As a result, doubts arise regarding the validity and precision of the criteria adopted by Nair to (i) choose a typical estimate for 1972 out of many official estimates, and (ii) disaggregate the bovine production into contributions by cows and buffaloes separately from 1977-78 onwards. In such instances, the 1982 figures have been clearly extrapolated based on the 1972-77 growth rates in the variables making milk production estimates. Such being the constraints with data on milk production, the use of MOAg estimates for further analysis would compound the subjectivity inherent in the estimates in the first place. Secondly, it tantamounts to providing sanction and perpetuating the practice of guess- estimates by informed researchers. At this point, Minnas' warning is apposite: "working with crude data (without caring to discuss the merits) which is bound to have very large margins of errors, one can never overemphasise the virtues of caution.. . all kinds of generalisations [are made] without as much as a murmur about the inadequacy of data base" (1966: 171).

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