Land Reforms In India
The role of agriculture in the economic growth and development of a country has been recognized for ages. Agriculture not only is seen as the source of food and provider of industrial raw materials but also as a source of livelihood for many people. The land is the most vital resource base in the agriculture sector that acts as a source of production, an asset of a certain value, or a means of social, economical, or political influence. Land reform can be interpreted as a purposeful initiative to change the process of owning agricultural lands, the methods of cultivation applied and establishing a link between agriculture and the economy as a whole. Land reforms as an institutional measure can have a major influence in addressing poverty, correcting social disparity, securing the status of poor land-holders, and organizing and enabling them to achieve benefits for their efforts. Land reform is considered an important step toward social justice and aims to abolish the exploitative attitude of rich landowning classes over insecure farmers.
Importance of Land Reforms In India:
It has been observed that land ownership becomes a deciding factor in the production process combining land and labour. This in turn affects the volume and distribution of the agricultural products. The objective of land reforms is to bring changes in the socio-economic status of the population dependent on agriculture in different ways. For countries with a large agricultural base, the key to development is greatly dependent on the quality and quantity of agricultural lands being utilized productively. Land reform in India was aimed to achieve equity in the distribution of land with the shift of ownership from rich to poor. In India, there were large differences and irregularities in the arrangement of agricultural lands causing dissatisfaction and unrest among rural people. Since independence, India has taken various measures to implement land reforms to empower the farmers. Some important measures are as follows:
- Abolition of the Zamindari system and recognition of peasants’ right over the land.
- Tenancy reforms to acknowledge the occupancy of tenants on land and regulation of rent structure.
- Initiative and appeal to land-owners to contribute fertile lands for cultivation towards the welfare of people and society.
- Transparency in the declaration of land holdings by updating records under the National Land Records Modernization program.
Important Milestones In Land Reforms By The Government of India:
- As per the 1949 Indian constitution, states were granted the powers to enact and implement land reforms.
- Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950 made provisions and implemented abolition of zamindars as landowners and vested these properties to the state.
- The land reforms established a sharing arrangement between tenant and landlord of land. The 70% of the harvest has to be shared with the person who is involved in the expenses for planting and harvesting.
- The Bhoodan Movements started in April 1951 to urge landowners to voluntarily surrender a part of their land to the landless.
Role of Land Reforms In Agricultural Development:
- Land reform eventually leads to an increase in agricultural production through land development and distribution. As the farmers own the land, they become more interested and motivated to invest in the land. They can be encouraged to adopt new form technologies and innovative methods of farming to improve productivity. As a result of land reform, the small farmers greatly benefited by receiving the inputs provided by the government that earlier was beyond their reach.
- Increased agricultural growth and productivity enhanced farmers’ financial condition by generating a scope more income which helped in reducing the poverty level in the rural community. This is a major step towards the development of the agricultural sector with increased access to land and assurance of increased rural agriculture wages for the poor masses.
- The less involvement of intermediaries allows the actual landholders to strengthen their positions and authority over the entire agricultural activities. This helps them to enhance their social and economic status and contribute to the development of the agriculture sector.
- The process of land reforms involves strategic measures to restructure the methods of land use for the overall development of the agriculture sector. This structure includes an organized pattern of cultivation, scaling up farm operations, and applying new technology. There have been major reforms observed in the system of rural credit to promote farming, assistance in marketing, and educate people for reaping the benefits of the reforms.
- As a part of land reforms, the maximum and minimum area of landholding has been specified to ensure equality in the distribution of land. The surplus lands above the ceiling limit are redistributed by the government to small or landless labourers to encourage farming that contributes to the economy of agriculture.
- The cooperative farming scheme as suggested by the government allows the landowners in the rural region to form a cooperative structure to access the lands for cultivation purposes. This system has encouraged the small landholders to maintain their bargaining power in the competitive pricing and marketing structure.
Factors Responsible For the Success of Land Reforms:
- The awareness among political administrators and long-term vision of economic development through agriculture led to the concept of land reforms.
- The implementation of land reforms as a means of agricultural development was acknowledged across the political spectrum.
- Constitutional amendments and the corresponding judicial interpretation of new laws helped in the recognition of land holdings by rural farmers.
- The organized movement by farmers accelerated the process of land reforms toward improving social and economic conditions.
- The importance of food insecurity and the need for agricultural development as a solution to this issue has led to the success of land reforms. The concept of improved productivity with equitability was emphasized as a consequent outcome of land reforms.
The land reform measures have brought promising results in the improvement of agricultural productivity and the social and economic progress of the farmer community. It reduces the labour and cost of cultivating fragmented lands in different places. The reforms changed the social and political power structure of owning land and empowered the actual landholders to contribute effectively to the development of agriculture and the economy as a whole.