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Indian Economy / Agriculture Sector

Land Reforms in India

Though the Laws on land reforms were enacted in various states during 1950s and 60s, National guidelines regarding land reforms came into effect from the year 1972.

Land Reforms and its Impact

  • The land reforms in almost all states include

    • Elimination of intermediaries like Jagirdars, Zamindars, etc.

    • Regulation of tenancy with regards to rent, security, confinement of ownership, etc.

    • Ceiling on land holdings

    • Protecting the tribal lands from alienation

    • Development of cooperative farming

    • Consolidation of land holdings (successful in Punjab and Haryana) and prevention of further fragmentation of lands.

  • The important objective of land reforms in the country is to bestow the ownership rights to the tenants as much as possible. To make it feasible, the Government undertook three important steps

    • Announcing land tenants as owners and asking them to compensate the money to owners in proper installments.

    • Asking the States to acquire the right of ownership of the lands and on payment of the compensation by the tenants, transfer the ownership to them.

    • The acquisition of rights by the States from the landlords, would bring the tenants into making a direct relationship with the States.

  • National guidelines, which were issued in 1972, specified the land ceiling limit that one should not possess more than 10 acres of best land. If it is second grade land, it should be between 18 and 27 acres.

    For rest of the lands, it should be between 27 and 54 acres with a slightly higher in limit for the desert and hilly areas.

  • Before the year 1972, the basis for land ceiling was at individual level. Each individual was considered as a unit instead of family as a unit. After 1972, family was regarded as the unit for land ceiling.

  • One of the major drawbacks of land reforms in India, is the continued concentration of lands with the upper classes of the rural society. It did not experience any change for the past seven decades even though the reforms were initiated.

    Leasing of lands by the rich farmers is one common scenario in rural India. Even though reforms were initiated with good intention, there was rapid growth of landless labourers in India.

  • It can be inferred that the measures that are taken by the Government did not make any sizable impact on the agrarian structure to eradicate or reduce the inequality in the land distribution.

    The land reforms have not seriously threatened the interests of the elite group of landholders. Socio-economic and political power still remains in the hands of this elite group, very much similar to 1947 and before.