Question – Critically evaluate the various components of land reforms and the constitutional provisions relating to it.

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Question – Critically evaluate the various components of land reforms and the constitutional provisions relating to it. – 30 July 2021


At the time of India’s independence, the ownership of land was concentrated in the hands of only a few specific people. This increased the exploitation of the peasantry, and at the same time remained a major hindrance to the socio-economic development of the rural population. The main focus of the government of independent India was equitable land distribution in the country. Land ownership laws were enacted in various states in the 1950-60s, which were amended in 1972 on the instructions of the central government.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 38 aims at minimizing inequality in income, status and opportunities.
  • Article 39 aims at equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the betterment of the community.

Government Steps for Land Reforms:

  • Land Ownership Reforms: Under this, the government abolished the earlier systems of Zamindari, Ryotwari, Mahalwari etc. Under this, the government has done three things-
  1. Eliminating the middleman related to agriculture,
  2. Granting direct land ownership to the tenants, and
  3. Regulation of rent
  • Consolidation of holdings of agriculture land: The productivity of the land was increased by the development of other types of facilities including means of irrigation by arranging scattered fields together.
  • Introduction of cooperative agriculture in the country,
  • Fixation of ceiling of holdings,
  • Agro-climatic regional appropriate planning
  • Development of rain fed agriculture/dry agriculture
  • Development of terraced farms
  • Leveling of ravines
  • Development of waste land (using pyrite or gypsum fertilizers)
  • Soil Survey and Conservation Programme, and
  • Development of irrigation (especially in arid regions)

According to the question we can classify the laws of land reforms into three main categories-

  • The first category pertains to tenancy reforms. This includes efforts to regulate tenants’ contracts through both registration and the terms of the contract. Such shares are a form of attempt to terminate the tenancy and transfer ownership to the tenants, along with the shares in the tenant’s contract.
  • The second category of land reform laws is an attempt to eliminate middlemen. These were the middlemen who worked for the British under the feudal rulers (Zamindari). They were authorized to collect rent from a large part of the land surplus. Most states had passed laws to eliminate middlemen before
  • The third category of land reform laws details efforts to provide a land-covered land with redistribution of surplus land to the landless.

Assessment of Land Reforms in India:

  • The landowners who were politically influential managed to destroy the purpose of these reforms. According to a report, till 1992 only 4 percent of the land holders had got the right of ownership. Of these, 97 per cent were from just seven states-Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
  • In trying to transfer the right of ownership to the Jotedar, many states abolished the tenancy itself. But the transfer of land may have been minimal, but an indirect result of this policy must have been that wherever tenancy was left in some form, it ceased to be protected and the scope of tenancy in future ended. Many states allowed tenancy, but stipulated that the land rent would be equal to one-fourth to one-fifth of the produce. But since this rate was much lower than the market rate, the contract continued in these states also by word of mouth, for which the tenant paid about 50 percent of the produce as rent.
  • The current effective assessment of these various reforms has been mixed. Till 1949, land reform was a state subject though it was carried forward by the Center through various five year plans. Enactment and implementation depended on the political will of the state governments. The perceived oppressive character of the Zamindars and the widespread political support to the end of its close alliance with the British and the domination of middlemen prompted the implementation of these reforms, most of which were completed in the 1960s.

Political failure was responsible for its implementation in cases of land demarcation, even after the Act had received adequate publicity. To avoid confiscation of surplus land, the landowners transferred their lands to their relatives, friends and dependents. The Land Consolidation Act was enacted less frequently than other reforms and its implementation affected only a few states, partly due to the paucity of land records. The village level study also gives a very mixed assessment of the impact of various land reforms on poverty.


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