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Essay on “Land Reforms in India” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

The Greatest Problem of India is The Land Problem


Land Reforms in India


Indian economy mostly revolves round agriculture and the productivity in agriculture is mainly dependent on two sets of factors, technological and institutional. Among the technological factors may be counted agricultural input, improved seeds, better methods of ploughing, harvesting, irrigation that is all the factors which help to raise productivity. The institutional reforms include the re-allocation of the ownership of land in favour of the cultivating class. This means improving the size of the farm, providing the security of tenure and the regulation of rents. In other words many of the institutional factors like sub-division, fragmentation and adverse feudal relations often act as a disincentive for raising production and the farmers lose the capacity to invest in agriculture properly. No doubt there are different schools of thought which recommend different types of reforms or technological improvements. Technological changes can work effectively if institutional reforms are also introduced. The aim of the reforms is just to get the maximum advantage of the scarce land resources. The situation becomes all the more alarming if the growth of population is somewhat abnormal and there is greater demand for agricultural products. India is facing this type of crisis and as it is primarily and agricultural country, land reform has been monopolizing the planner’s thought, right from the beginning. Moreover, there had been a great exploitation of the villagers by the feudal lords and so the poorer sections of the society were on the increase. As India lives in the villages, so for the betterment of India the lot of the villagers was to be ameliorated.

The scope of the land reform entails elimination of intermediaries, regulation of rent, ceiling of land holdings, consolidation of holdings and organization of cooperative farms. It has been considered that the agriculturist is the builder of the social structure and to make it work for progress it is necessary to better the conditions of the villagers who till the land without getting proper reward of their labour. Apart from giving a solid support to economy the purpose is to consolidate democratic spirit by making the agriculturist prosperous enough to participate in the working of democratic institutions.

When India achieved independence the tenure system was extremely unfavourable to the farmers and it was considered to be the root cause of all the problems concerning land. There were three important systems: Zamindari tenure, Mahalwari tenure and Ryotwari tenure. Under the Zamindari system which was introduced by Lard Cornwallis in 1793 in Bengal, land was held by a person whereas he would employ some tillers. The owner used to pay the land revenue. The British Government considered Zamindars as the enlightened section of the rural population. In fact, the landlords used to persecute the farmers and at a stage they symbolised oppression and tyranny. So farming as a profession could not even yield subsistence wages to the farmers. Under Mahalwari system the land was held by the village communities and they were jointly and severally responsible for the payment of land revenue. The system was mostly the product of Muslim tradition and flourished particularly in the Punjab. Under the Ryotwari tenure land may be held in single independent holdings. The individual holders were indirectly responsible for the payment of land revenue. The first Ryotwari settlement was made in Madras in 1932. Immediately after Independence, the aim of the Government was to remove intermediaries and this became the cornerstone of the policy of land reforms. Actual abolition of intermediaries started in 1948 with the enactment of legislation in Madras. It was followed by legislation in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, etc. As a result of these legislations about 30.4 lakh tenants acquired ownership rights.

Similarly, some tenancy reforms have been introduced. Under the Zamindari and Ryotwati tenure, tenancy cultivation was prevalent in India. Broadly speaking tenants used to be either occupancy tenants or sub-tenants or tenants at will. The occupancy tenants were somewhat better placed as far as their rights are concerned because this tenancy was permanent and could be inherited but the other two types of tenants were subject to exploitation. There were enhancement of rents, evictions and exactions. Many tenancy reforms were introduced with a total ban on sub-letting as well on tenancy at will. Similarly, some of the States have tried to regulate rent also. In Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan one-sixth of gross produce is fixed as maximum rent whereas in Assam and Mysore maximum rents very between one-forth to one-third and in Punjab one-third of the produce is considered to be maximum rent. But these regulation have not worked properly because the land owners somehow or other manage to get higher tenancy from the tillers. The Government has also tried to provide security of tenure. During the Second Five Year Plan some provisions regarding the security of tenancy were made. Recently some of the States have gone a step further in giving the right of ownership to the tenants. For instance in West Bengal the tenants and sub-tenants have been brought into direct relationship with the States by the conferment of full ownership right.

Some of the landlords used to have very big land holdings. As a result of that they never devoted any attention ot the development of the land to the fullest extent. It has been thought that till the land is not redistributed properly, neither will it conform to the current socio-political climate nor will it be democratic in its ultimate analysis. The rural population will never be able to reap proper benefits till the landlords have big holdings. Moreover the interest of the tiller will also not be permanent because the landlord would not allow him to have some advantages that may bypass his personal benefits. Otherwise also big land-holdings were unmanageable so the Government had tried to put ceiling on the land holdings. Some States have taken a step towards it whereas in the rest of the States the kulak lobby has been more successful in forcing the Governments to shelve these plans.

One of the most interesting aspects of land reforms is the Bhoodan movement. In fact it cannot be considered a part of land reform policy but it is definitely a significant contribution towards it. Acharya Bhave’s movement did not have any legal sanction because it depends more upon moral appeal. He conceived that land belongs to all and like air and water its use ought to be universal. Similarly he believed that in order to eliminate economic inequality the land owners should share their lands with the tillers and the landless brothers. 42.7 lakh acres of land was donated under Bhoodan. But now the movement has virtually dies out. No doubt it has been noticed that people sometimes donated land whose ownership is disputed yet this movement has created a proper type of atmosphere for better relations between the landowners and the tillers.

Dr. Minhas suggests a scheme for the land redistribution. According to him no household ownership should be larger than 20 acres and the extra land should be distributed among the households in the four lower size classes is a manner that the per capita ownership of land in the four classes is equal. Similarly Mr. V.V. Giri in his book, “Jobs for Our Millions” has proposed a plan for cooperative land colonization of waste land. According to him there should be farms of an area of 1500 to 2000 acres and the total number of families employed should not exceed 100. So far no positive steps have been taken by the government though at some later stage they may have to take this into consideration.

Cooperative farming in India is considered to be the ultimate objective of land reforms. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “I firmly believe that we shall not derive the full benefit of agriculture until we take to cooperative farming”. There are various opinions regarding the organisation of cooperative farming and its feasibility. The Cooperative Planning Committee has classified cooperative farming into four types that is cooperative tenant farming, cooperative collective farming, cooperative farming and cooperative joint farming. The first implies that a number of farmers own land which is divided into smaller holdings given to individual members of the society. Second type of cooperative farming means that the members surrendered their land and their equipments are jointly owned and the work is done jointly. In the third type of cooperative farming all the farmers in a village join together and combine all agricultural operations. The last type of farming implies pooling of land and cultivating it jointly. The cooperatives in farming societies in India are of two types, the service cooperatives and the cooperative joint farming societies. The main purpose of the service cooperatives is to provide agricultural input like seeds, fertilizers, etc., and the second type of cooperatives pool the land of the members for reaping the benefits of large scale cultivation. But the cooperative farming as practiced in India has not been successful.

“Land reforms were conceived in proper perspective but they were so much riddled with loopholes” that it became difficult to consider them a great success. Moreover, there has been a very slow progress of the land reform policy. As a result of it the landlords and the zamindars have been able to hoodwink the Government in retaining their land holdings. Legislation has completely failed to prevent subletting and rack renting. Some of the economists feel, that the land reforms created a bigger gap between the landlords and the tenants. Even a ceiling on land holding has not been properly imposed. Moreover there has been the lack of uniformity in the execution of the policies. Particularly in the regulation of rent there has been a wide difference in the case of different legislations of different states. So land reform policies are steps in the right direction, but the implementation has not been effective. For getting better results and overall improvements in the living conditions of the villagers, supply of better seeds and agricultural implements would be necessary.


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