|Land systems at the Time of Independence Feudal Agrarian Structure
|Objective of Land Reforms
|Bhoodan – Gramdan & Land Reforms
|Impact of Land Reforms
|Review of Land Reform Measures
|Reasons for Low Progress of Land Reforms
|ElemSuggestions for Improvement
Introduction - Land Reforms in India
The term ‘land reforms’ involves procurement and redistribution of large holdings of agricultural land among the small farmers and landless agricultural labourers. It is an instrument to bring about improvements in the institutional framework of land. The responsibility of land reforms is owned by the government with a view of benefiting those who either have petty holdings or have no land at all. As big land owners are quite unlikely to share their holdings with their landless counterparts, intervention by the government using force of law/ legislation is necessary to secure social justice for the masses.
Land reform usually refers to redistribution of land form the rich to the poor. More broadly, it includes regulation of ownership , operation leasing, sales, and inheritance of land. In an agrarian economy like India with great scarcity, and an unequal distribution, of land, coupled with a large mass of the rural population below the poverty line, there are compelling economic and political arguments for land reform. Not surprisingly , it received top priority on the policy agenda at the time of Independence. In the decades following independence India passed a significant body of land reform legislation. The 1949 Constitution left the adoption and implementation of land and tenancy reforms to state governments. This led to a lot of variation in the implementation of these reforms across states and over time , a fact that has been utilized in empirical studies trying to understand the causes and effects of land reform.
There were a large number of land tenure systems
prevalent in India in pre- Independence period. But the following three were more prevalent in different parts of the country.
Under this system, every registered holder is recognized as its owner. The owner cultivator or peasant proprietor is responsible directly to the government for the payment of land revenues and other dues. There is no intermediary between the government and the cultivator. This is perhaps the best system of land tenure. The peasant Proprietor Does not fear ejection by the government so long as he pays the land revenue. He can make permanent investments in his land as he is sure to reap its benefits. Thus, this system can ensure an increase in agricultural productivity.
Under this system , land is held (owned) jointly by a collective body of village. This body collective body of village . This body collects land revenues from the owners or cultivator peasants and is responsible to the government. This system is found in some part of U.P. Punjab and Haryana . This system facilitates cooperative farming to get maximum yield from land. The small holdings of peasant cultivators can be combined for this purpose. The main drawback with this system Is that it encourages absentee landlordism.
In Zamindari system , there is a separation of ownership of land from its cultivators. Under this system, one person known as zamindar owns a village and is responsible for the payment of land revenues to the government . This system existed in West Bengal , some parts of U.P. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu . Now this system has been abolished.
Land systems at the Time of Independence Feudal Agrarian Structure
At the time of Independence, India inherited a semi – feudal agrarian structure with onerous tenure arrangement over substantial areas. The ownership and control of land was highly concentrated in a relatively few landlords and intermediaries. The principal interest of this controlling group in agriculture was to extract maximum rental from Tenants , either in cash or in kind .
Under this arrangement, economic motivation to develop farm land for increased production or to improve the economic conditions of cultivators was lacking. At the same time, working cultivators after paying high rent had no surplus to invest in farm improvement. They had neither resources nor knowledge for increasing agricultural production. Thus, the agricultural land resource of India. Along with its operators was gradually impoverished because economic motivation tended exploitation rather than toward investment and improvement.
Objective of Land Reforms
The basic objective of land reforms in India has been the creation of a system of peasant proprietorship . ‘Land to the tiller’ has been the motto. Through the redistribution of land by applying ceiling on land holdings, the idea has been to build up a vigorous Independent peasantry consisting of small farmers and to help these farmers class with extension of credit and distribution facilities, largely through a network of cooperative service organization.
The Planning Commission gave two basic objectives of land reforms, namely.
1. Economic efficiencyThe agrarian reforms should help in removing all obstacles to achieve high agricultural productivity. They should help in creating conditions for evolving as speedy as possible, an agricultural economy with high level of efficiency.
2. Social JusticeThe agrarian reforms should help to eliminate all elements of exploitation and ensure social justice with the agrarian system to provide security for the tiller of the soil and assure equality of status and opportunity to all the sections of the rural population . In order to achieve these objective the following policy measures were envisaged :
Bhoodan – Gramdan & Land Reforms
Land reform was the main focus of the First Five Year Plan. Vinoba Bhave started the Bhoodan Andolan to encourage big landless farmers. Many people came out in support of Vinoba Bhave and donated land.
Impact of Land Reforms
The impact of land reform measures on agrarian structure of the country can be discussed under following heads.
Review of Land Reform Measures
Review of Land Reform Measures Though the land reform measures have been
instrumental in bringing about some desirable changes in Indian agrarian structure, yet, they have failed to secure, a justice to a large section of the rural population. The results of land reforms implemented so far have been far from satisfactory.
Some of the glaring examples of weakness in land reform measures are listed as under.
Reasons for Low Progress of Land Reforms
The task force on agrarian relations set up by the planning Commission to appraise the progress and problems of land reforms, identified the following reasons for the poor performance of land reform measures.
1. Lack of political willIn the context of the socio – economic conditions prevailing in the country, no tangible progress can be expected in the field of land reforms in the absence of requisite political will. In no sphere of public activity in our country since independence has had such a big gap between policy pronouncement and actual execution.
2. Absence of pressure from belowExcept in a few scattered and localized pockets, practically allover the country, the poor peasants and agricultural workers are passive, unorganized and inarticulate. The basic difficulty in our situation arises from the fact that the beneficiaries of land reforms do not constitute a homogeneous social or economic group.
3. Negative attitude of the bureaucracyTowards the implementation of land reforms, attitude of bureaucracy has been generally lukewarm and indifferent. This is, of course, inevitable because, as in the case of men who wield political power, those in the high echelons of the administration also are either big land – owners themselves or have close nexus with big land – owners.
4. Legal hurdlesLegal hurdles also stand in the way of land reforms. The task force categorically states: “in a society in which the entire weight of civil and criminal laws, judicial pronouncement and precedents , administrative procedure and practice is thrown on the side of the existing social order based on the inviolability of the private property, an isolated law aiming at the restructuring of the property relation in the rural area has little chance of success. And whatever little chance of success was there, completely evaporated because of the loopholes in the law and protracted legislations”.
5. Absence of correct and up – to – date land recordsThe absence of correct and complete land records further added a good deal of confusion. It is because of this that no amount of legislative measures could help tenant in the court unless he could prove that he is the actual tenant. The main reason for the unsatisfactory state of affairs are
6. Lack of Financial supportLack of financial support plagued the Land Reform Act from the beginning. No separate allocation of funds was made in the fifth plan for financing land reforms. Many states declined to include even expenditure of such essential items like preparation of records of right in their plan budget.
7. Land reforms have been treated as an administrative issueThe implementation of land reforms is not an administrative issue, it is more of a political issue. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the political will for implementing land reforms.
Suggestions for Improvement
The land reform measures were thoroughly reviewed by planning Commission and other committees. Based on their findings, National Commission on agriculture has suggested following measures to reinforce the implementation of land reforms.