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Introduction. What are land reforms?
Body. Discuss various land reforms in India before and after independence.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Land reforms refers to various reforms in regulations regarding land ownership and property rights for the benefit of the community as a whole. The main objective of the land reforms is to do away with the existing inequalities in the system of landholding and to increase the agricultural productivity.
Land reforms before independence:
- Rent Act of 1859: The Bengal Rent Act of 1859 was the first legislative attempt at defining the rights of tenants and protecting them against frequent enhancement of rent and arbitrary ejectment. The law applied to all provinces included in the Bengal presidency.
- Tenancy and Rent Act, 1885: The Famine Commission (1880) noted that the Rent Acts failed to bring noteworthy improvement in the economic condition of tenants. Bengal witnessed large-scale agrarian conflicts and anti-Zamindar riots during the years 1872-76. Thus the Tenancy and Rent Acts were passed in Bengal in 1885, with a view to conferring occupancy rights upon ryots who were in continuous possession of land for 12 years.
- Subsequent tenancy acts: Similar to 1885 Bengal’s tenancy act, the Bihar Tenancy Act of 1885 and Orissa Tenancy Act of 1914 granted occupancy rights to tenants. The Agra Tenancy Act 1926 granted a statutory life tenancy to everyone formerly classified as tenant-at-will. The C.P. Act abolished ‘Begar’ while the Bombay Act of 1938 specified the grounds on which tenants could be ejected. It also allowed compensation for improvements made.
Land reforms after independence:
- Abolition of Intermediaries: Intermediaries like Zamindars, Talukdars, Jagirs and Inams had dominated the agricultural sector in India by the time the country attained independence. Soon after independence, measures for the abolition of the Zamindari system were adopted in different states. The first Act to abolish intermediaries was passed in Madras in 1948. By 1955, the progress for the abolition of intermediaries had been completed in almost all the states.
- Tenancy Reforms: To protect tenants from ejectment and to grant them permanent rights on lands, laws have been enacted in most of the states. The tenancy legislations in India are not uniform throughout the country. Each state has its own legislation. For example, in Orissa, a limit has been imposed on the landlords for resuming land for personal cultivation.
- Ceiling on land holdings: The third important land reform was the imposition of ceiling on land holdings. Ceiling on land holdings implies the fixing of the maximum amount of land that an individual or family can possess. Ceiling legislation in India has been enacted and implemented in all states.
- Consolidation of Holdings: Consolidation of Holdings means bringing together the various small plots of land of a farmer. Attempts have been made in India for consolidation of holdings in some areas. It formed an integral part of our land reforms policy since the inception of on the Planning in 1951. 15 states have passed laws in respect of consolidation of holdings. In Orissa, the Consolidation Act was passed in 1972. The work of consolidation has been completed fully in Punjab and Haryana. So far 51.8 million hectares of land have been consolidated in the country.
- Compilation and updating of land records: Compilation and updating of the land records are an essential condition for the effective implementation of land reforms programme. In recent years the states have taken all measures for updating land records with the utmost urgency by adopting a time-bound programme. Efforts are also being made to maintain the land records through computerisation.
- Digitisation: It began around the mid or late 1960s and saw the gradual ushering in of the green Making land records available to all, to contain/check property frauds in the late 1980s. The Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) was launched by the government of India in 2008 to computerise all land records.
The purpose of land reform is to help weaker sections of society and do justice in land distribution. Government land policies are implemented to make more rational use of the scarce land resources by affecting conditions of holdings, imposing ceilings and grounds on holdings so that cultivation can be done in the most economical manner.