Sunday, September 8, 2013

Land Reforms

In simple terms, land reforms refers to the distribution of land in the favour of 'tiller of the soil'. Land Reforms were started in India post-Independence to improve the productivity of agriculture and make an equitable distribution of land keeping in view the socialist vision of society.

The land reform programme had several components - abolition of intermediaries, ceiling of land holdings, provision of security of tenure for peasant-tenants etc. It was realized that transferring land to the tiller would incentivise them to make improvement on their land, thereby raising the productivity of land.

However, it succeeded only to the extent of abolition of intermediaries. Ceiling legislation could not register much success owing to loopholes in legislation. The programme gradually faded out after Green Revolution was introduced which made India self-sufficient in food grains.

In recent times, land reforms have again appeared to the forefront as the gains from Green Revolution seem to be fading out.

Need for Land Reforms
In India, 70 percent of the population resides in rural areas with majority depending on land-based activities for their livelihood. In fact, rural poverty in India is interlinked with landlessness. The landless are highly vulnerable to exploitation. Effective land reforms can bring out a decrease in the magnitude of landlessness and consequently, rural poverty. Based on the premises of equity and increased agricultural productivity, they have the potential to enhance the food security of the nation.

Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution directs the Indian State to ensure that the ownership and control of material resources of the community are so distributed so as to subserve the common good. So, the Indian State is under an obligation to ensure that distribution of land is more equitable.

How to carry out land reforms in the Indian context?
a) Enormous political will is the key to success of this programme as has been witnessed earlier that State Government that were more committed have been able to push through it.
b) Grassroots-level participation is needed in boundary demarcations, opinion recording and complaints resolution
c) Civil Society can be actively engaged in transfer of technology and promotion of entrepreneurship in our villages
d) Safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the distributed land is protected from land grabs
e) The distributed land needs to be productive and government must provide for a comprehensive package of support services such as credit, market access, infrastructure facilities along with the land reforms

Land Reforms need to be pursued vigorously so that gains in productivity can be accrued from it as well as leading to an equitable distribution of land resulting in reduction of rural poverty and greater rural prosperity. 

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