- What is Land Ceiling?
- Why Ceiling on Land holdings?
- Land Ceiling in India
- Land Ceilings: Benefits/Advantages/Positive Points
- Land Ceiling: Pro and Anti arguments
- Mock Questions
So far we’ve seen
||How the British had difficulty learning the land Revenue system of Desi Nawabs. So, they came up with Permanent settlement, Ryotwari and Mahalwari systems.|
||But the British tenure systems caused much pain and anguish among Indian peasants and led to numerous revolts.|
||After the Provincial elections of 1937, Congress ministries took measures to protect tenant farmers. But by and large shied away from zamindari abolition.|
||After freedom, State Governments enacted Zamindari Abolition Acts. As a result erstwhile (superior) tenants became virtual owners of their land. =>This is First tool of Land reform.|
Now comes the new problem:
- After abolition of Zamindari, the (superior) tenant farmers became virtual owners of the land. They owned tens and hundreds of acres of land. While other (inferior tenants/sharecroppers/landless laborers) owned nothing.
- Many Zamindars themselves kept lot of land in pretext of ‘personal cultivation’.
Therefore, State governments enacted land ceiling acts. E.g.an individual farmer cannot own land beyond say 10 acres. Thus, if a farmer owned 12 acres, government would take away 12-10=2 acres of surplus land from him, and “distribute” it to some landless laborers. This is Second tool of Land reform.
before going further let’s again recap the players in a tenancy system
- It means fixing maximum size of land holding that an individual/family can own.
- Land over and above the ceiling limit, called surplus land.
- if the individual/family owns more land than the ceiling limit, the surplus land is taken away (with or without paying compensation to original owner)
- This surplus land is
- distributed among small farmers, tenants, landless labourers or
- handed over to village panchayat or
- Given to cooperative farming societies.
- Because DPSP Art.38 seeks to minimize the inequalities of income, status, facilities and opportunities. Land ceiling minimize inequality in the land ownership and thus reduces inequality of income.
- Because DPSP Art.39 wants to ensure that the operation of economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth. In a village, land=wealth, hence land ceiling is necessary to prevent concentration of wealth in the hands of few.
- Because DPSP Art.39 wants to give right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens. Land ceiling (and subsequent land redistribution) provides self-employment opportunities to landless agricultural laborers.
- If there is no land ceiling, rich farmers will buy all the land of entire village and tehsil. But since they cannot cultivate all the land by themselves- they’ll ‘lease’ it to small farmers (tenants). Small farmer (tenant) doesn’t have any ‘motivation’ to work harder because he doesn’t own the land and he has to give 30-50-70% of the produce to that rich farmer, as “rent”= exploitation.
- So, After abolishing Zamindari, IF State Governments had not implemented Land ceiling, then rich farmers/superior tenants would have become the new de-facto/virtual Zamindars of Modern India.
Although, economists who believe in free market / capitalism, donot like land ceiling. We’ll see their anti-land ceiling arguments at the end of this article. But for the moment, let’s continue with the assumption that land ceiling is beneficial.
Like I said in the middle of the article- the economists believing in free market / capitalism- they don’t like land ceiling. So let’s hear their arguments
|Anti-Land Ceiling||Pro Land Ceiling|
States with political will in favour of land ceiling=showed great progress. Example
- Jammu and Kashmir, Land ceiling laws fully implemented and by the middle of 1955 about 230,000 acres of surplus land had been handed over to tenants and landless labourers, that too without having to pay any compensation.
- West Bengal had less than 3% of total cultivate land in India. Yet more than 25% of the total surplus land that was distributed throughout India, belonged to WB.
- Earlier large tracts of wasteland belonging to big zamindars/farmers remain uncultivated. Now this given to landless laborers= increases area under cultivation=food security.
- More Production: Equal distribution of land will encourage intensive cultivation resulting in increased agricultural production.
- Some Farm management studies conducted in India testified that small farms yielded more production per hectare. It is so because family members themselves cultivate small farms.
- Even one hectare of land is also an economic holding these days on account of improvement in agricultural technique. Hence, small size of holding due to ceiling will not have any adverse effect on agricultural production.
- Atleast some of the Land owners shifted to direct ‘efficient’ farming in order to get ‘exemption’ from land ceiling.
- 1959: N.G. Ranga, C. Rajagopalachari and Minoon Masani setup the Swatantra party.
- Because they were against land ceiling, compulsory cooperativization, nationalization of private industries etc. policies of Congress government.
|1967||Charan Singh formed BKD|
|1974||BKD+ Swatantra Party + other parties merged=>BLD|
|1977||BLD was major component of Janta Government under the great Morarji Desai who defeated Indira Gandhi.|
Thus, in a way land ceiling helped destroying Congress monopoly / One party rule in Indian politics.
In the next articles, we’ll the two phases of Land Ceiling laws in India.
- Land ceiling is more of an impediment than a catalyst for economic growth. Comment
- Evaluate the significance of Land ceiling as a measure of land reforms.
- The positive impacts of Land ceiling did not trickle down below the middle rung of peasantry. Comment.
- Define Land ceiling. Why was it necessary to enact land ceiling acts in post-independent India?
[Land Reform] is a long topic, I’ve split it into several parts. Therefore, to get comprehensive list of all articles, visit Mrunal.org/Polity.