Roman Saini is teaching live on Unacademy Plus
Land Reforms in India Lesson 1
In this Lesson Introduction
The genesis of the structure of power and authority in rural India can be traced to land. Even Rig Veda mentions the importance of land. In the narrow sense, land reform means the redistribution of surplus land to small farmers and landless tillers 2 main objectives of land reform are: . . . . to change the agrarian structure in a way to promote the growth of agriculture . to replace the old land system by a new one which is free from the exploitative features
Land reforms are major instruments of socio-economic transformation They are needed in an economy characterized by feudal and semi feudal production relationships. The main objective of land reform programme is not only to increase agricultural production, but also to build an egalitarian social order as envisaged under the Constitution of India It aims at diffusion of wealth, reducing ineqalities, increasing productive capacity, spiralling agriculture growth in the country . . .
The approach to land reforms will focus on the following areas: Abolition of Zamindari system Consolidation of land holdings all over the country Redistribution of ceiling surplus lands among the landless farmers Passing suitable legislations such as Forest Rights Act, LARR Act, 2013 Tenancy reforms to recognise the rights of the tenants and sharecroppers; Updation and computerisation of land records and issue of land pass books to the farmer Recognition of women's land rights . . . . .
Indian Agriculture at Independence: The Colonial Impact Commercialization of agriculture and differentiation within the peasantry occurred on an unprecedented scale. Commercialization of agriculture in colonial India facilitated the extraction of surplus from the peasantry and the transfer of this surplus from India to Britain by bringing agricultural produce to the export market. Differentiation of the peasantry in India by and large did not lead to the rise of the rich peasant/capitalist farmer but to the creation of a rentier landlord class. The actual land revenue collections under the British were generally much higher than those under the traditional indigenous rulers. It could equal 75% of the whole of the net produce of the peasant. . . . * .
Under colonialism Indian agriculture experienced the growth of landlordism and rack renting on a very wide scale. In the zamindari areas absentee landlordism and sub nfeudation was rampant In addition to the rent demand the landlords resorted to numerous illegal exactions in cash, kind or labour (begar), which put a severe burden on the peasant The problem of small holdings was further accentuated by their fragmentation, that is, these being held in dispersed small plots. The colonial state too did not put back a fraction of what it extorted from agriculture . . . * Indian agriculture therefore remained at a very backward level.
Nearly 97% of the ploughs used in India as late as 1951 were still wooden ploughs, only 3% were ron ploughs Use of improved seeds, artificial fertilizers, etc. remained extremely low and scanty . . . Zamindars gave loan to farmers/laborers and demanded free labour in return This practice prevented farmers/laborers to bargaining wages Begari, Bonded labour, or debt bondage became a common feature in large parts of the country Even in ryotwari areas, upper caste controlled the land. Lower caste was reduced to sharecroppers and landless laborers. . . .
Legacy of the National and Peasant Movements . The INC demanded year after year that there should be a low permanently fixed land tax and permanent settlement of land revenue. Justice Ranade went a step further and was among the first to argue for a structural change which would replace the existing semi-feudal agriculture with capitalist agriculture * Taking a bold and clear stand, the Indian National Congress at its famou:s Karachi session in 1931, included in the list of 'Fundamental Rights and Economic Programme' that it wanted to be provided for in any future constitution of independent India, the following:
Substantial reduction in agricultural rent or revenue paid by the peasantry and in case of uneconomic holdings, exemption for rent for such periods as may be necessary Relief of agricultural indebtedness and control of usury -direct and indirect. Labour to be freed from serfdom or conditions bordering on serfdom. Peasants and workers shall have the right to form unions to protect their interests. Imposition of a progressive income tax on agricultural income above a fixed minimum * * .
After Independence, attempts had been made to alter the pattern of distribution of land holdings on the basis of four types of experiments- Land reforms "from above" through legislation by the Central Government and finally implemented by the agencies of the State Government Land reforms "from above" as in the case of Telangana and the naxalite movement also to some extent in the case of the "Land Grab" movement . Land reforms through legislative enactments "from above" combined with peasant mobilisation "from below" as in the case of controlled land seizure in West Bengal and protection of poor peasants in Kerala. Land reforms "from below" through permission of landlords and peaceful processions by peasants as in the case of Bhoodan and Gramdan. .