India: Despite All the Neglect, Land Reforms Remain Relevant and Important

by Bharat Dogra

Frontier | July 27, 2017

One of the least commented upon but nevertheless important aspects of economic policy and agricultural policy during the last two to three decades has been the extent to which the important issue of land reforms has been neglected and sidelined in India. Not that land reforms were particularly successful in India at any earlier stage. There may not have been any great achievements but nevertheless, keeping in view that India is a large country, even limited achievements translated in terms of several hundred thousand people getting some land.

In terms of future programs and initiatives, a hope remained alive for several years that as long as land reforms remained on the official agenda, if not today then tomorrow something important can be achieved. But what has happened during recent years is that land reforms in terms of significant redistribution of land among the rural poor have almost vanished from the radar of government policy makers.

There is hardly any official discussion on taking this further. In fact this issue is even being neglected in the media as never before. The academic community by and large also appears to be neglecting this issue now, in sharp contrast to the keen interest taken by academics in this issue till some years back.

Nevertheless it needs to be proclaimed loud and clear that land reforms remain a very important issue for many reasons. Firstly if reduction of poverty and inequalities is our most important concern, then land reforms certainly have a very important role in achieving this. In terms of achieving food security to the poorest, again it makes a big difference if they have at least some farmland of their own.

Thirdly , even in terms of food production and productivity, sincere and significant land reforms can contribute a lot as the when poorest people  get their own land they are likely to work hard to grow the most food on this. In fact they can become very successful participants in efforts for low cost, self reliant and eco friendly methods for improving yields because such efforts also need hard work and good care of land ad soil. The weaker sections and particularly the women from these sections are likely to be more helpful in spreading such careful and eco-friendly farming.

Thus from many important points of view the issue of land reforms should remain a very important issue particularly in the specific conditions of countries like India with large-scale poverty, hunger and land pressures.

Hence efforts should be made to keep alive this issue and highlight its effectiveness and importance for reducing poverty, inequality and hunger in India.


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