Page 14 - Science India August 2022
P. 14

Swatantrata ka Amrut Mahotsava
Far right: The skeletal Indian farmers as a result of famines, which were caused because the British forced Indians to cultivate cash crops instead of food crops, failing which they were severely punished
Right: To promote horticultural trade for Britain, horticultural societies and gardens were founded. This is the Horticultural Gardens in Madras, circa 1880s
Pithapuram, in 1920.
According to these
works, the defini-
tion of agriculture
assigned a wider role
than the present-day thoughts/ practices associated with agriculture. ‘Agricul- ture includes production of food grains, sugar, flowers, fruits, thread and cloth from cotton, milk and ghee from cattle, blankets from wool, silk from the silk- worm, and even salt from the sea and precious stones from the earth.’
Krishisasthram contains classifica- tion of soils according to colour, compo- nents, salinity, crops that suit different soils, and methods to improve soil qual- ity. Our indigenous knowledge included division of the year into 27 periods, and crops to be sown in each period. Fore- cast of rain was calculated using astro- nomical methods. Agricultural methods and implements were developed depend- ing on the local environment and topo- graphical conditions.
Spices from India were in great de- mand in Europe for food and medicinal purposes. This was a major reason for Europe to discover a route for trade with India. It was Vasco da Gama who suc- ceeded in providing a maritime route
Image Courtesy:
from Europe to India. Gradually, Euro- peans found colonisation more lucrative than controlling a few trading centres. The British established trading centres through the East India Company from 1757, the first step towards colonisa- tion. Development in any form in India was always directed to aid the progress/ prosperity of England including techno- logical applications such as telegraphy, railways, and shipping.
INDIAN AGRICULTURE Institutionalisation of agricultural sci- ence in colonial India took place in phases. The first phase saw the setting up of botanical gardens and societ- ies for horticulture and agriculture. It was a trial phase, where exotic variet- ies were introduced in various pockets of the country. Britain looked towards gaining insight on the botanical collec- tions that were collected during surveys conducted by botanists in India. These were crucial to understand the scientific
Grain boats on the Ganga during a famine in Bengal during British rule

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