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Land Reforms In India

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Land reform refers to the government redistributing land from landowners to landless people for agricultural use or other specific purposes. The land is the foundation of all economic activity in every nation. Land reform is a deliberate effort to alter the ownership of agricultural lands, the cultivation techniques used, and the relationship between agriculture and the overall economy. Land reform is considered an important step toward social justice and aims to abolish the exploitative attitude of rich landowning classes over insecure farmers.
 

Land Reforms

Land Reforms in India

Changes to land ownership-related laws, rules, or conventions are referred to as land reform. It refers to the government-initiated or -backed property transfer, typically of agricultural land.

It has been observed that land ownership becomes a deciding factor in the production process combining land and labor. 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. Land reform in India was aimed to achieve equity in the distribution of land with the shift of ownership from rich to poor. Since independence, India has taken various measures to implement land reforms to empower the farmers. 

Why were the Land Reforms Introduced?

Most of the lands prior to independence in India were owned by intermediaries, like the zamindars, and jagirdars, and not by the farmers who actually worked on these lands for the production of crops. The farmers suffered from exploitation when the landowners did not pay any heed to agricultural requirements and were only concerned with the collection of land revenue.

After independence in the year 1947, inadequate production from agriculture was present and for fixing the same, the Indian government took necessary measures for altering and regulating the systems and these were important for agrarian reforms in India after that of independence.

Objectives of Land Reforms

The main objectives for Land Reforms are as given below:

  1. Overall renewal of law structure for the agricultural lands in India.
  2. Equal and uniform distribution of agricultural lands, by which concentration of ownership was limited to a few hands.
  3. Abolition of intermediaries of the ancient and medieval land-holding system of India.
  4. Increasing agricultural production with healthy as well as economic practices.

Types of Land Reforms

The types of land reforms prevailing in India are as follows:

Pre-Independence Land Reforms

  1. No ownership of lands for farmers during the British Raj.
  2. Landlords included Jagirdars, zamindars, and so forth. Many issues were confronted by the government, which became a challenge in independent India.

Post- Independence Land Reforms

The land reforms in post-independent India are as follows:

  1. Abolition of Intermediaries: One of the first reforms by the government of India was the Zamindari Abolition Act and it removed the intermediaries.
  2. Regulation of Rents: Unimaginably high rents which resulted in a vicious cycle of poverty, was replaced by regulations for the protection of land-owning farmers.
  3. Tenancy Reforms: Regulation of rent, for the provision of secure tenure and also for conferring ownership to the tenants.
  4. Ceilings of Landholdings: This is referred to as the legal stipulation of maximum size after which no farm household or farmer is able to hold any land.
  5. Consolidation on Land Holdings: Consolidation refers to the redistribution or reorganization of fragmented lands into a single plot.

Some Measures of Land Reforms

  1. Abolition of the Zamindari system and recognition of peasants’ right over the land.
  2. Tenancy reforms to acknowledge the occupancy of tenants on land and regulation of rent structure.
  3. Initiative and appeal to landowners to contribute fertile lands for cultivation towards the welfare of people and society.
  4. Transparency in the declaration of land holdings by updating records under the National Land Records Modernization Program.
  5. Justification of the rent system.

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.

  1. Bihar Land Reforms Act, of 1950 made provisions and implemented the abolition of zamindars as landowners and vested these properties to the state.
  2. 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 involved in the planting and harvesting expenses.
  3. The Bhoodan Movements started in April 1951 to urge landowners to voluntarily surrender a part of their land to the landless.

Land Reforms Statistics 1973-2015

Role of Land Reforms in Agricultural Development

  • Land reform eventually leads to an increase in agricultural production through land development and distribution. 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.
  • 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. There have been major reforms observed in the system of rural credit to promote farming, assist 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 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 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 the 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.

Objectives of Land Reforms in India

In Indian history, a great deal of significance is attached to land reforms. For the same, several motions were split off. A number of important parties, including zamindars, oppressive middlemen, money lenders, etc., sought to take advantage of any situation and left their employees with little motivation. In general, these land reforms had two basic goals. One of them is to boost agricultural output, and the other is to socially raise the weaker members of society. Beyond these two fundamental goals, there are several others, including:

  • To make agricultural operations provide equitable results
  • To end the exploitation of the underprivileged part
  • The rural section’s socioeconomic situation has improved
  • More emphasis on production
  • Particular emphasis on rural regions
  • In order to achieve balanced progress in society and economy
  • Tribal protection by preventing strangers from claiming their ancestral lands.
  • Land reforms were also implemented for non-agricultural interests including construction and industry.
  • Land should be redistributed so that it is not held in the hands of a select few people.

Conclusion

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 labor 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.

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FAQs on Land Reforms in India

Q1. What do you mean by land reforms in India?

Answer-

Changes to land ownership-related laws, rules, or conventions are referred to as land reform. It refers to the government-initiated or -backed property transfer, typically of agricultural land.

It has been observed that land ownership becomes a deciding factor in the production process combining land and labor. 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. Land reform in India was aimed to achieve equity in the distribution of land with the shift of ownership from rich to poor. Since independence, India has taken various measures to implement land reforms to empower the farmers. 

Q2. What are the objectives of land reforms in India?

Answer-

Some objectives of land reforms in India are as follows:

  • To make agricultural operations provide equitable results
  • To end the exploitation of the underprivileged part
  • The rural section’s socioeconomic situation has improved
  • More emphasis on production
  • Particular emphasis on rural regions
  • In order to achieve balanced progress in society and economy
  • Tribal protection by preventing strangers from claiming their ancestral lands.
  • Land reforms were also implemented for non-agricultural interests including construction and industry.
  • Land should be redistributed so that it is not held in the hands of a select few people.

Q3. What are the measures of land reforms?

Answer-

  • 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 landowners 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.
  • Justification of the rent system.


Last Updated : 03 May, 2023
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