Problems in implementation of land reforms

Weaknesses with the zamindari abolition

  • The absence of adequate land records made implementation of these acts difficult.
  • Personal cultivation: ‘Personal cultivation’ was very loosely defined which led to not only those who tilled the soil, but also those who supervised the land personally or did so through a relative, or provided capital and credit to the land, to call themselves a cultivator.
  • Moreover, in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madras there was no limit on the size of the lands that could be declared to be under the ‘personal cultivation’ of the zamindar
  • Zamindars resorted to large-scale eviction of tenants, mainly the less secure small tenants.
  • Even after the laws were enacted the landlords used the judicial system to defer the implementation of the laws.
  • Zamindars refused to hand over the land records in their possession, forcing the government to go through the lengthy procedure of reconstructing the records.
  • Implementation of the law was made difficult with the collusion between the landlords and lower-level revenue officials.


Weaknesses of tenancy reforms

  • The provisions introduced to protect the small landowners were misused by the larger landlords with the active connivance of the revenue officials.
  • The inordinate delays in enacting and implementing the legislations
  • Voluntary surrenders by tenants also took place as they were ‘persuaded’ under threat to give up their tenancy rights ‘voluntarily’.
  • No tenancy rights to sharecroppers.
  • Most tenancies were oral and informal andwere not recorded.
  • Providing security of tenure to all tenants, met with only limited success.
  • The Green Revolution which started in some parts of India in the late 1960s aggravated the problems, with land values and rentals rising further.
  • The acquisition of ownership rights by tenants was achieved only partially.
  • Even today 5% farmers hold 32% of land holdings.
  • The right of resumption and the loose definition of ‘personal cultivation’ was used for eviction of tenants on a massive scale.
  • Voluntary surrenders by tenants also took place as they were ‘persuaded’ under threat to give up their tenancy rights ‘voluntarily’.
  • In West Bengal sharecroppers, known as Bargadars received no protection till as late as July 1970, when the West Bengal Land Reforms Act was amended to accord limited protection to them.
  • Most tenancies were oral and informal and were not recorded.
  • Providing security of tenure to all tenants, met with only limited success. There were still large numbers who remained unprotected. So reducing rents to a ‘fair’ level was almost impossible to achieve


Weaknesses in Land Ceiling Legislation

  • Post-independence India had more than 70 per cent of landholdings in India under 5 acres so the ceiling fixed on existing holdings by the states were very high.
  • In most states the ceilings were imposed on individual and not family holdings, enabling landowners to divide up their holdings in the names of relatives or make Benami transfers merely to avoid the ceiling.
  • Further, in many states the ceiling could be raised if the size of the family of the landholder exceeded five.
  • A large number of exemptions to the ceiling limits were permitted by most states following the Second Plan recommendations that certain categories of land could be exempted from ceilings.


Digitization of land records failed

  • Insufficient data: Lack of clear and sufficient data and mismanagement between the various agencies handling land records, the data registered at various government levels is not identical.
  • Progress over the past decade has been uneven, with some states, such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, doing better than the others. However, there are challenges, even in advanced states such as Maharashtra.
  • New digitized land records do a good job in reflecting ownership of land, but less so when it comes to recording encumbrances and area of land parcels.


Weaknesses of consolidation of land holdings

  • The programme failed to achieve its desired objective because the farmers are reluctant to exchange their lands for the new one.
  • The arguments given by the farmers is that their existing land is much more fertile and productive than the new land provided under land consolidation.
  • The farmers also complained about nepotism and corruption in the process of consolidation.
  • The farmers complained that the rich and influential often bribes and manage to get fertile and well-situated land, whereas the poor farmers get unfertile land.


Failure of cooperative farming:

  • Attachment with Land: The farmers are not willing to surrender the rights of land in favour of the society because they have too much attachment with it.
  • Lack of Cooperative Spirit: The spirit of cooperation and love is lacking among farmers. They are divided in various sections on caste basis.
  • Illiteracy: some of them are using the old methods of cultivation.
  • Lack of Capital: The co-operative farming societies are also facing the capital shortage problem and these are unable to meet the growing needs of agriculture. Credit facilities to these societies are also not sufficient.
  • Re-Payment of Debt: Sometimes debt is not re-paid in time which creates many problems for the financial institutions. Some members do not realize their responsibility and it becomes the cause of failure.