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The Unsung ‘Father Of Global Green Revolution’ Who Saved The World From Mass Starvation

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By the first half of the 20th century, the world had suffered the brunt of two consecutive and catastrophic world wars. Aside from the loss of families, friends, homes and jobs, the surviving population across the globe had a far bitter trauma to deal with – starvation. Wars incur unprecedented economic losses. Since the Great Depression of 1929, the food crisis had plagued thousands of lives and killed many more, especially in underdeveloped countries.

Following independence in 1947, India and her newborn neighbours like Pakistan were reeling under acute poverty, which, added on to an exponentially growing population, posed the threat of famines as dire as the infamous Bengal Famine of 1943.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

Norman Borlaug: The man who saved the war-ravaged world

In the late 1960s, noted biologist Paul Ehrlich floated his explosive theory of Population Bomb, which predicted that millions in the Indian subcontinent might perish as the food supply failed to multiply as fast as the population. However, in reality, such a drastic disaster could be prevented, all credits to one of the most unsung heroes of the world – Norman Borlaug.

The Nobel Peace Prize awardee American agronomist had also been awarded the Padma Vibhushan – the second-highest civilian honour from India, aside from the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal from his motherland.

Father of Worldwide Green Revolution

Recognised as the true father of the worldwide Green Revolution, Borlaug developed a miraculous strain of wheat that saved an entire planet from mass starvation. The semi-dwarf wheat strain, first piloted in Mexico by Borlaug, exhibited high yield, disease resistance and resilience to all weather and soil conditions. The variety thrived well in the Indian subcontinent, saving an undernourished population from impending doom.

Soon, the cultivation of his wheat strain spread like wildfire all over the world with developing countries importing Borlaug’s seeds in bulk. Production increased by nearly three times in the 30 years between 1960 and 2000.

Later, Borlaug reproduced his work on corn and rice as well, thereby ushering in the ‘Green Revolution’, which still holds relevance as a crucial chapter in the history of humanity.

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A true-blue patriot

“I am the product of the worst of the depression,” Borlaug famously remarked in a 2002 interview with Dallas Observer. The depth of his simple comment can be properly comprehended if one chronicles his life – full of struggles, hard work and a heroic dedication.

Borlaug worked as a high school science teacher and later as a microbiologist with a chemical firm in the USA, before the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack which altered the trajectory of his life. A true patriot, Borlaug tried to enlist himself in the military following the incident. However, instead of a place on the battlefield, he was assigned to research and develop ingenious military supplies.

He discovered a seawater-resistant glue for the wooden military ships sailing across the Pacific, camouflage accessories, disinfectants as well as electronic equipments. They might sound simple, but each of these played a crucial role in assisting the sturdy American soldiers to survive the brutal war in foreign soils.

Wheat research in Mexico: A tale of sacrifices

However, these discoveries are actually the tip of the iceberg if we analyse Borlaug’s contribution to humanity. In June 1944, upon the invitation of Rockefeller Foundation, Borlaug joined the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico the head geneticist.

The new program team set up camp in an abandoned agricultural station in Northern Mexico’s Yaqui Valley. Despite the absence of proper water, sanitation and electricity, Borlaug and his team worked day and night to develop a new rust-resistance, high-yield variety of wheat, that could solve the imminent food crisis in the continent.

It took around ten exhausting years for Borlaug to finally unveil his exceptional variety of wheat.

Borlaug later recounted the sacrifices he made for this experiment. He had left his wife and 14-month old daughter behind in the war-ravaged USA to carry out his research in a remote, inaccessible location in Mexico.

Saving India and her neighbours

It was Borlaug’s work in the Indian subcontinent in the early 1960s that deserves a special mention. India’s population was growing at an alarmingly high rate but the crop production couldn’t be enhanced accordingly. On top of that, ongoing wars with neighbouring countries created a famine-like scenario in parts of India.

As word about Borlaug’s wheat strain spread, in 1962, M. S. Swaminathan, Father of Green Revolution in India, invited Borlaug to Indian Agricultural Research Institute. Borlaug arrived in 1963 and supplied 100 kg of his seed to India.

However, owing to traditional habits and not much in-depth scientific know-how, Indian farmers were reluctant to sow Borlaug’s seeds and follow his instructions of advanced farming. But Borlaug was not a man to give up. He persuaded the whos who of agricultural ministry and in the following three decades, wheat production went up three times.

A superhero without a cape

Eventually, all the developing countries started importing Borlaug’s seeds and resorting to his methods to catalyse their production rates.

His incredible efforts, which managed to resist a worldwide famine in the face of the population bomb, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Other awards and honours followed soon after. The superhero who saved the world from hunger breathed his last on September 12, 2009, at the age of 95.

Borlaug once revealed his fascination with the rustling sound of wheat plants in the breeze. He devoted an entire lifetime with the crop, for the sake of humanity. Yet, despite his illustrious list of awards, very few in the world are aware of his contribution. It is high time the superhero is given the recognition he deserves.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Supporting Education Of COVID Hit Students

19,200 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

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Supporting Acid Attack Survivors During COVID

26,651 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

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1,11,860 Raised
Out of 9,00,000

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26,931 Raised
Out of 15,00,000

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1,04,887 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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5,87,014 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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Provide Ambulance : Help Them Reach Hospital On Time

3,82,370 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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Support Pranitha To Donate Oxygen And Ration Kits

8,35,618 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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7,582 Raised
Out of 1,50,000

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41,094 Raised
Out of 2,50,000

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Ended

Stand By Ladakh

40,962 Raised
Out of 1,00,000

Share

Closed

Support our Frontline COVID Warriors

25,615 Raised
Out of 5,00,000

Share

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

97,02,146 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

Share

Campaign Closed
Brought machinery

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,544 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

9 Happy Fridges Installed
Ordered a minivan and sent for modification

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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