Land Reforms Ownership & the way forward
India is the seventh largest country in the World in terms of landmass although not everyone in the country has access to land. Even if one has access, our complex land ownership rules make things difficult. Since the British Raj, people like small farmers, labourers have just suffered due to land. During those times, extensive focus on revenue collection from lands left no opportunity for the Indian peasants to grow. Practices like Zamindari broke the backbone of small farmers and landless labourers as well as peasants.
It is however unfortunate that even after seventy years of Independence, today we are not able to bore fruits and use the land as it must be used.
Has land ownership elevated the farmers from poverty?
Land, even if owned by farmers has not been able to lift people out of poverty. This issue is grave and forces us to look into the cause of the problem. Post-independence, land reforms were brought in viewing the dismal condition of agrarian societies and poor land produce. Under Nehruvian leadership, planned development was emphasised upon. Therefore, land reforms took place. Though the land reforms abolished the zamindari system, regulated tenancy and gave new land ceiling rules. Though zamindari abolition was visible all around India but the latter two failed to be curbed.
Fast forward to today, rural poverty is still largely associated with landlessness. Land is such a resource and an asset which provides tremendous opportunities for people. Land provides reliability, a degree of confidence and stability. Without land, particularly in rural areas, it is difficult to prosper. Land is also a symbol of status in villages. The divide between rich and poor- land-owner and landless is plainly visible. However, there are other factors too because despite having land even then people struggle to lift themselves out of poverty.
Countries such as South Korea have seen successful land reforms of land redistribution among its people. India also needs to strictly implement land reform acts. Even land rights need reform. There is a serious need to shift from presumptive titles to conclusive titles. Not having clear land titles have been the root cause of many obstructions to the path to prosperity.
More than half of the civil cases in Indian courts are land-related. For example, sale deeds have no government guarantee. Therefore, land cannot be used as sole collateral for availing loans from the banks. Moreover, the cost of registration is very high in India, though it varies from place to place. The stamp duty is as high as 4%-10% compared to 1%-4% in other countries. Therefore due to very high registration fees people avoid getting properties registered.
It is due to the same reasons that investments in infrastructure projects are left stranded due to complex sale deeds and unclear titles. This blocks a great opportunity of job-formation, capital flow, lack of liquidity and employment. The pitfall of the system results in generation of black money. Only if land distribution and titles are made clear, productivity can take place. Banks will then provide capital for investment on the same piece of land and various activities can be carried out.
Fragmentation of land as generations come by
Fragmentation of land is very common in India due to hierarchical divisions, such lands become too small in size to be cultivated. Therefore, consolidation of such lands and collective, co-operative farming can be done.
Unimplemented Land Ceilings and Land Tenure
Fixing of ceilings on land must be implemented to ensure fair distribution of land among all. It will also lead to rational use of land. More institutional factors such as implementing a proper land tenure system are also required to grant security.
The unproductivenee of these lands and farmers being in poverty stricken condition has helped the rural youth’s psyche being dented. They no more derive pride in being a farmer. Todays youth are attracted towards the lavish life of urban lifestyle. This has resulted in rural people migrating to towns and cities in search of jobs and livelihood. This has changed the demography of urban areas with a large influx of migrants. Often these jobs too do not provide security and it becomes a vicious circle.
Better Prospects through Land Reforms and Beneficiary Programmes
Therefore, through land reforms better prospects can be generated in rural areas thus reducing migration push factors. It will also help in development of villages, socially and economically. These reforms will change over-all structure of rural as well as urban society.
Government schemes like e-NAM, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), etc. will then benefit a large share of farmers who can trade agricultural commodities online and practice organic farming respectively on their own lands. Only, if farmers have land, they can completely benefit from such schemes.
Digital maintenance of records avoiding the role of local patwari though GPS enabled boundary records can help promote transparency in land transfers . Even ther records digitization will help reduce the bulk of paper documents and make access quicker. One such initiative has been the Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme. Since land is a state subject, state governments must guarantee title rights providing conclusive ownership of land which will facilitate liquidity. Such reforms have the potential to unlock huge capital hidden in land. Apart from agricultural productivity through capital investment, it will give a boost to MSMEs and cottage industries, small businesses, etc.
Therefore, we have the treasure-box (land), all we need to do is to put the right key or right combination of the lock (reforms) and it will automatically get unlocked. Our motherland has immense potential to feed everyone on it, we just need to recognize that.
AUTHOR- SURAMYA SHARMA
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