From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Land reforms
The farmers’ agitation in India has attracted worldwide attention and support.
Story of land reforms in India
- Being a state subject, various states implemented reforms with varying degrees of effectiveness and equity.
- Objectives: The objectives were the same: Abolition of feudal landlordism, conferment of ownership on tenants, fixing land ceilings, distribution of surplus land, increasing agricultural productivity and production, etc.
- However, owing to manipulations in land records, much surplus land was not available for distribution among the landless tillers.
- Less than one per cent of the total land in the country was declared as surplus.
- The relevant criteria for land entitlement should have been employment and main source of income.
Change in social structure after land reforms
- The ex-tenants, after getting land made use of several programmes —Green Revolution technology, bank nationalisation and priority sector lending, urbanisation and expanding urban markets.
- They cornered a disproportionate share of various subsidies.
- The tenant-turned-capitalist farmers formed political parties, which produced strong state-level leaders, who controlled state-level planning, fiscal policies and politics.
- In place of a strong Centre and weak states, came a weak Centre and strong states.
- Rich farmers have formed strong power blocs, with unquestioned clout and bargaining power, not only in north-western India but also in states like Maharashtra.
Need for agrarian reforms
- Farmers are seeking legal safeguards against market fluctuations, especially against any downward pressure on agricultural prices.
- While they welcome every rise in prices, they demand legal protection against price falls, a legitimate stance.
- Even as agricultural prosperity must be promoted,it should not be just shared between farmers (especially rich ones) and urban consumers, but by all.
- Farm workers, in particular, must benefit from it.
Reforms for farmworkers
- Agricultural land should be pooled and equally distributed among farm households.
- Non-farm households should not be permitted to hold farmland.
- Land reforms should be a central subject; while agriculture can remain a state subject.
- Such a programme will empower and enrich marginalised and excluded individuals and social groups.
- It should be the kernel of a justiciable universal property right that must form an integral/inalienable part of Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.
The right to life is hollow without a right to livelihood. Through an effective land reforms programme, let’s build a prosperous India based on equity and justice.
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