Tuesday, 19 January 2016


What is Land reform?

Agro productivity is affected by two type of factors:



land tenure system

size of land holdings

land distribution

climate, soil, rainfall

farm mechanization

farming techniques: use of hybrid seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation methods

Reforms related to ^institutional factors are called land reforms.

Let’s check some more definitions


Land Reforms is a planned and institutional reorganisation of the relation between man and land


Land Reforms mean deliberate change introduced into system of land tenure and the farming structure


Land reforms imply such institutional changes which turn over ownership of the farms to those who actually till the soil, and which raise the size of the farm to make it operationally viable.”


Land reforms mean, such measures as, abolition of intermediaries, tenancy reforms, ceiling on land holdings, consolidation and cooperative farming etc.


Improving land tenure and institutions related to agriculture.


redistribution of property rights

For the benefit of the landless poor.


integrated program

to remove the barriers for economic and social development

Caused by deficiencies in the existing land tenure system.

Ya but why learn so many definition? Ans. UPSC may directly give you a definition and ask you to ‘comment’ on it-just like they do in public administration paper I. Example

Mock Questions:

Land Reforms is a planned and institutional reorganisation of the relation between man and land. Comment.

Land reform is not confined to just redistribution of property rights among the landless poor. Comment.

Examine the change introduced into system of land tenure and the farming structure during first five year plan.

Define Land reforms. Examine its role in removing the barriers for economic and social development in India.

Land reforms: broad vs narrow sense

broad sense

narrow sense

concerned with land rent, land ownership, land holding, land revenue+ credit, marketing, abolition of intermediaries, etc.

Concerned only with land ownership and land holdings.

What are the objectives of Land reforms?

or Why do we need land reforms?

Increase production

Tenant farmer has no motivation to improve agricultural practices because

He doesn’t own land=can’t get loans through banks / formal institutions.

He doesn’t own land=why bother?

He has to pay heavy rent to the landowner=hardly any surplus income left to invest in hybrid seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery etc.

In other words, the agrarian structure that we inherited from the past (Zamindari, landlessness etc.) obstructs increase in agricultural production. Land reforms will remove these obstructions.

Land ownership/ tenure security will motivate farmers to work harder, invest more and thus produce more =more income=standard of life improved + poverty decreased.

For Development of Indian agriculture the importance of land reforms is greater than that of technological reforms. (according to Nobel prize-winner Gunnar Myrdal and K.N. Raj, etc.)

social justice

Zamindari abolition= also eliminates Begari (forced labour)

Land ceiling = reduces the inequality of income and land ownership among villagers. Provides land to landless labourers.

Tenancy reforms= reduces rents. Landowner cannot evict a tenant farmer as per his whims and fancies.

1+2+3= Rural power structure changed. Upper caste domination decreased. Empowerment of SC/ST/OBC farmers, agri.labourers.

Thus land reform=> Social justice + Egalitarian society.

Economic development

on one hand: land reform increase production

on the other hand, land reforms will also provide social justice.

Abolishing intermediaries (Zamindar, Talukdar, Jagirdar etc)= the State directly comes in contact with farmers. This direct relation will help in rural Development and agri. Development as per five year plans.

1+2+3=long term economic development.

Improve standard of living


agro production increased

social justice given

Economic development achieved.

1+2+3= villagers’ standard of living automatically increases.

Mock Questions

“Land reforms have been treated as an integral part of eradicating poverty, and increasing of agricultural production.” Comment.

Explain the role of Land reforms in providing social justice and moving towards an egalitarian society.

Post-Freedom: Towards land reforms

At this time, we had two set of victim-farmers

Those refugee-farmers who migrated from Pakistan.

Those exploited by zamindars, landlords and moneylenders.

So first question: what was done for those refugee farmers?

Government settled them in Eastern parts of current Punjab (because from this area, muslim farmers had migrated to Pakistan so land was available)

First, each refugee farmer family given 4 ht. of land, irrespective of how much land they owned in Pakistan. Government also gave them loans to buy seeds/fertilizers, so they can start temporary cultivation.

Later, each refugee family was asked file application regarding how much land they owned in Pakistan.

These claims were verified by village assemblies and each family was allotted proportional land in Punjab. by 1950 this work was finished.

Now moving to the second type of victim-farmers: those exploited by zamindars, landlords and moneylenders. What was done for them?

November 1947:  the AICC appointed a special committee to draw up an economic programme for the Congress.

name of this committee= Economic Program committee

Chairman= Nehru.

Other members: Maulana Azad, N.G. Ranga, G.L. Nanda, Jayaprakash Narayan etc.

For land reforms, committee recommended that:

All intermediaries between the tiller and the state should be eliminated

aka Zamindari abolition. Covered in this article.

Maximum size of holding should be fixed. The surplus land over such a maximum should be acquired and placed at the disposal of the village cooperatives.

aka Land ceiling. Covered in next article.

Present land revenue system to be replaced by progressive agricultural income tax.

Not covered in any article. because income from agriculture is exempted from income tax. And therefore, many filmstars use fake papers to claim they are ‘farmers’. (and then they dance in Dawood’s Party @dubai, earn money, manipulate the account books to show that cash coming from their ‘agriculture’ income and thus evade tax.)

All middlemen should be replaced by non-profit making agencies, such as cooperatives.

Pilot schemes for cooperative farming among small land holders

aka Cooperative farming. Will be covered in future article.

Consolidate small land holdings and prevent further land fragmentation.

Aka consolidation of land holdings. Will be covered in future article.

Let’s start with Land Reform Method #1: Zamindari Abolition. But first question:

Why Abolish Zamindari?

in the first article under [Land reform], we saw the three land tenure system of British- Zamindari, Ryotwari and Mahalwari.

In Zamindari areas (BeBi: Bengal, Bihar), the British government outsourced the land Revenue collection work to Zamindars. Similarly in the Princely states had Jagirdars.

These ‘intermediaries’ would:

Force the tenants to provide demand free labour (Begari)

evict tenants as per their whims and fancies = no tenure security

Enjoyed lavish lifestyle, did not add anything to agriculture productivity, yet charged high rent – they were like today’s Middleman @APMC Mandi that we saw under [Food processing] article series.

Therefore, it was necessary to remove these intermediaries,

Because Art. 23 prohibited Begari. But at the grassroot level, Begari couldnot be stopped unless Zamindari itself was abolished.

Because Art. 38 wanted to minimize inequality of income, status and opportunities. When Zamindars control ~40% of India’s cultivated land, there was no opportunity / status for tenant farmers working under them.

Because Art. 39 wanted equitable distribution of the material resources of the community for common good. But in villages, these Zamindars control ponds, lakes, forests, grazing lands etc. and didn’t allow others to freely access them.

Because Art.48 wanted to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern-scientific lines but Zamindars were orthodox rent-seeking mindset, and tenant farmer had neither the money nor the motivation to ‘scientific farming’.

Because First Five year plan also asked for abolition of intermediaries/zamindars to increase agro. Production, farmer’s income, to provide social justice and move towards an egalitarian society.

First Amendment, 1951

You already know that First amendment =>9th schedule, whatever laws listed this schedule, courts cannot inquire into them. But first Amendment is not just about 9th Schedule /Zamindari abolition. It dealt with many other issues as well.

Microsoft released Windows 8 Operating System. Later, they realized limitations, problems with Win8, so recently they released an upgrade Windows 8.1 to fix it.

Similarly, Constitution came into force from January 1950. But from January 1950 to May 1951 (=~15 months), government realized variety of deficiencies/problems with Constitution. So, cameup with First amendment to fix those issues in 1951.

#1: SEBC

Before Amendment

Art. 15: State cannot discriminate against any citizen…..

So according to this (original) provision, if government provided reservation or any welfare scheme for SC/ST/OBC/PH, then general category could approach court saying we’re ‘discriminated’ against and hence our fundamental right is violated.

Another Angle:

DPSP Art.46: State should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and protect them from social injustice.

But this Directive principle cannot be implement because of Art.15

so, government had to fix this inconsistency with Art.15.

After the 1st Amendment

Article 15 shall NOT prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

In other words, if government makes law for SEBC/SC/ST, they cannot be challenged in courts on the grounds that Art.15 is violated.

#2: Freedom of Speech

before Amendment

Some courts held the 19/1/a (freedom of speech) so comprehensive and sacrosanct that

Even if a person advocated murder, violence or hatred against any caste/religion/person/nation, he could not be convicted.

What if an ACIO leaked national security related data to a journalist? Both could still claim immunity on the grounds of freedom of speech.


State can make law to put “reasonable” restriction on freedom of speech, with respect to:

National security

friendly relations with foreign countries

public order, decency or morality

contempt of court

Defamation or incitement to an offence.

#3 Freedom of Profession


Art. 19(1)(g): The citizen has right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Now suppose

A person without MBBS degree, starts a clinic.

A person without doing any pharmacy course, opens a medical store

But if the State authorities tried to stop him, he could approach courts saying my fundamental right is violated!

Another angle: According to Industrial licensing policy, atomic energy is reserved for public sector. But an entrepreneur could challenge this in court and start his own private nuclear plant. (=risky and dangerous from national security point of view)


The State CAN make laws to prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business. in other words, if you open a clinic without doing MBBS, you can be jailed and you cannot claim protection under Art.19

The State can make laws to carry out any trade/business/service by itself or thru its corporations. And can exclude any businessmen, citizen or private industries from carrying out those activities. In other words, if state reserves atomic energy or railways for public sector only then private entrepreneur cannot approach court saying his fundamental right under Art.19 is violated.

#4: Land Reforms


by 1949: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Madras, Assam and Bombay states introduced Zamindari abolition bills.

They all used the report of the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition Committee (chaired by G.B. Pant) acting as the initial model.

but Zamindars approached courts, raising issues like ‘our right to property’ has been violated or we’re not given fair compensation etc.

Hence Union government came up with provisions to prevent courts from entertaining such pleas.


Added three things to the constitution

two new articles (31 A and B)

one schedule (9th Schedule)

Art 31A:

State can make laws to acquire any estates / rights related to estates.

Estate =also includes any jagir, inam or muafi or other similar grant;

Rights= also includes rights of any proprietor, sub-proprietor, under-proprietor, tenure-holder or other intermediary- with respect to land revenue.

And courts cannot declare such law void, on the ground that it violates fundamental rights.

(But) if such law is made by a state legislation, then it cannot claim immunity under Art.31A, until it receives assent from the President of India.

Sidenote: later Fifth Amendment added more laws that cannot be challenged in courts.


The Acts and regulations listed in 9th Schedule of the constitution = cannot be challenged in courts on the ground that they are violating fundamental rights.

Meaning, courts are prohibited from doing any judicial review of the items listed in 9th Schedule.

9th Schedule:

The first Amendment act listed 13 acts and regulations in 9th schedule.  all meant for abolishing Zamindari. Meaning Zamindars could not approach courts against those laws. (boring list given @bottom of this current article)

Later 14th Amendment, 34th Amendment etc. also added more laws related to land reforms in this 9th Schedule. You can read more about them in Laxmikanth’s appendix for constitutional amendments.

#4 Minor modification

A few minor amendments in respect of articles 341, 342, 372 and 376.

Anyways we digressed much from the Zamindari abolition topic so let’s come back.

So far we’ve seen:

what is land reform

what are the objectives of land reform

post-independence, how we moved towards land reform

we saw how first amendment 1951

modified freedom of speech

modified freedom of profession

Protected Zamindari abolition/law reform laws via Art 31A, 31B and 9th Schedule.

Now let’s talk about the actual Abolition of Zamindari:

Timeline of Zamindari Abolition by States


States that abolished Zamindari

1948 to 50s

Madras, Bombay and Hyderabad states


Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam


Orissa, Punjab, Swarashtra and Rajasthan


Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal


West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi

Zamindari Abolition Acts: Salient Features

Since land = falls under State list, so state legislatures had to enact the zamindari abolition. Meaning no uniformity. Different states have different provisions. But let’s check the common features of all such state acts.

#1: Compensation

Ownership and land revenue related rights of the zamindars = abolished.

Lands transferred to the (superior) tenants.

State governments gave compensation to Zamindars ~670 crore rupees.

Some states created “Zamindari Abolition fund” and gave “Bonds” to Zamindars as compensation. These bonds could be redeemed after a period of 10 to 30 years. (why long term bonds? why not pay all cash upfront? think about the fiscal deficit angle!)


Compensation to Zamindar

Jammu Kashmir

No compensation paid to them. And this also led to Hindu-Muslim bitterness because Almost all Zamindars were Hindu (in Jammu region).

Uttar Pradesh

Compensation according to Zamindar’s income.

Small Zamindar= Annual income times 20

Big Zamindar= Annual income times (2 or 4)

In other words- compensation formula inversely related to Zamindar’s income during British raj.

#2: Common Land/resources

Example wasteland, grazing land, ponds, wells, forest area surrounding the village.

earlier Zamindars controlled such common land/resources and

charged fees from villagers, if they wanted to use it.

did not allow SC/ST to full access these common land/resources.

These Zamindari Abolition acts, transferred the ownership of such common land/resources to Village Panchayat. And Forest area= gone to Forest department.

#3: Ownership transfer

Bhumidhar=tenant farmers, who cultivated Zamindar’s land.

In Uttar Pradesh, Bhumidhar can become owner of the land after paying 10 times the annual rent to his Zamindar.

#4: Personal Cultivation

Land which was cultivated by the zamindar himself = exempted from purview of these acts. Seminar was permited to keep this land.

#5: Direct payment of land revenue

Now Farmer was made directly liable for paying land revenue to the state government. (Because Zamindar is no longer the ‘middleman’ in land revenue hierarchy.)

Zamindari Abolition: Limitations/Obstacles/Negative points

#1: Land reform Delayed= Land reform Denied

After laws were passed, Zamindars went to SC/HC to stay the law implementation. This greatly reduced the effectiveness of these legislations.

^to understand this, let’s check the #Epicfail of Bihar:


Bihar government passed resolution to abolish Zamindari.


Act was passed State assembly but landlords approached the courts and the government too felt it necessary to repeal the legislation.


State legislature passed New Act, with some amendments. But Zamindars again approached courts.


Union government brings 1st Amendment, gives immunity to all such Zamindari abolition acts/ regulations from judicial review.

But Even, after the law was finally implemented, the Zamindars refused to cooperate with the revenue authorities and tried all means to scuttle it implementation.  The petty revenue officials at Village and Tehsil level, either turned blind eye or actively sided with Zamindars for bribes. Thus many years had passed by for the intention of Zamindari abolition became a reality.

#2: Personal cultivation

Most state laws permitted Zamindars to keep part of land for personal cultivation. But the definition was vague. Zamindars misused this loophole to evict tenant farmers and keep most of the land with themselves.

(Counter argument: Zamindar started capitalist farming in the area- led to increase in Agro-productivity)

#3: New form of Zamindari

Main beneficiaries of zamindari abolition were the occupancy tenants or the upper tenants or superior tenants- They had direct leases from the zamindar, and now they became virtual landowners.

But now these new landowners leased the same land to inferior tenants/sharecroppers- based on oral and unrecorded agreements.

These inferior tenants/sharecroppers could be evicted as per the whims and fancies of the new landowner.

Thus, even after the abolition of Zamindari, the system of ‘intermediaries’ and exploitation continued.

#4: Not much for Ryotwari

At the time of freedom, less than 50% of cultivated land was under zamindari tenure. The remaining areas (ryotwari/Mahalwari) did not have Zamindari system but they too had system of ‘intermediaries’  i.e. big farmer/moneylender leasing land to small farmers- then charging excessive rent and exploiting them.

The Zamindari abolition did not bring much relief to these people.


the Main objective of Zamindari abolition = there should be no ‘intermediary/middleman’ between the State and the land Revenue payer (farmer). But this objective was not achieved.

Therefore, many economists do not attach much significance Zamindari abolition.

They opine Zamindari abolition merely changed the hierarchy of land revenue administration, but did not bring any change in the method of farming nor in the nature of agricultural units.

Anyways, enough of negative points, let’s check some positive points:

Zamindari Abolition: Benefits/Positive points

~1,700 lakh hectares of land was acquired from the intermediaries (zamindars) and as a consequence, about two crore tenants were brought into direct relationship with the government.

Many millions of cultivators who had previously been weak tenants or tenants-at-will were became superior tenants= virtual owners. =DPSP Art. 39 fullfilled (right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens)

Many absentee zamindars actually started direct ‘personal cultivation’ (so the State cannot take away their land). They had money to buy high yielding seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, machineries=agro productivity increased.

The entire process occurred in a democratic framework

virtually no coercion or violence was used (unlike the land reforms in China, Russia or Cuba.)

Finished in remarkably short period. Perhaps because Zamindars were isolated during and after freedom struggle due to their soft corner for the British.

#1: Agro Production increased



Zamindar collected Revenue.

Government directly collects land Revenue from farmer.

neither the zamindars, nor the cultivators took interest in improvememt of agriculture land

Cultivators have got ownership rights and hence take keen interest in land improvement and increase in agriculture production.

Government created an enabling atmosphere- agri. cooperative society, regional rural banks etc. to provide cheap credit. Subsidy on fertilizers, cheap electricity, irrigation etc.

=DPSP Art. 48 fullfilled (modern and scientific agriculture and animal husbandry)

#2: Emancipation

After abolition of Zamindari, the agricultural laborers no longer forced to give free labors=Begari, Bonded labour declined. Art. 23 fullfilled.

Bargaining power of agri. laborers increased=>higher wages=>declined poverty.

#3: Changed rural power structure

Public land such as village ponds, grazing grounds, village streets etc. which was used by the Zamindar’s as personal property, have been declared as community property. =DPSP Art. 39 full filled (material resources of community).

This disarmed the Zamindars of economic exploitation and dominance over others. Thus, Transferred power from Zamindars to peasants.

#4: Towards an Egalitarian Society

Abolition of intermediaries=> asset distribution=> egalitarian society.

The Planning Commission estimates that after Abolition of Zamindari, at least twenty million tenants were brought into direct relationship with the governments.

empowerment of those who have out of the development process.

= DPSP Art.38 fullfilled. (securing a social order, minimize inequality of income, status, facilities and opportunities.)

#5: Rise of middleclass

Since the intermediaries were removed=>farmers don’t have to pay heavy rent=>these farmers could generate profit=>could sent their kids to school and colleges.

So in a way, land reforms helped in expansion of Indian middleclass.


So far we’ve seen: British Tenure system, peasant revolts and three main land reforms after independence viz. (1) Zamindari Abolition (2) Land ceiling (3) Tenancy protection Acts.

In this article, we’ll check some people’s/NGO/Civil society movements for land reforms in India. Their achievements/limitations.

In the next article we’ll come back to government actions: cooperative farming, consolidation of land holdings and computerization of records.

timeline-land reforms and ngo action

@Mains 2013 Players:  If running out of time and find this article too lengthy then just read Bhoodan+Gramdan+directly Jan Satyagraha 2012 and skip the topics in between.

Bhoodan Movement (Donation of Land)


First Bhoodan in village Pochampalli, Nalgonda District, Andhra (the hotbed of Telengana movement)By local Zamindar V. Ramchandra Reddy to Vinoba Bhave.


Jayaprakash Narayan withdrew from active politics to join the Bhoodan movement

Bhoodan movement had two components:

Collect land as gift from zamindars and rich farmers.

Redistribute that gifted/donated land among the landless farmers.

Bhoodan: Mechanism/procedure/features

(Hierarchy) Vinoba: Sarvodaya Samaj=> Pradesh Bhoodan Committees in each region=> local committees and individual social workers @grassroot.

He and his followers were to do padayatra (walk on foot from village to village). Persuade the larger landowners to donate at least one-sixth of their lands.

Target= 50 million acres. (~1/6 of total cultivable land in India)

When a Zamindar/rich farmer gifts/donates a land, the Bhoodan worker would prepare a deed.

These Deeds forwarded to Vinoba Bhave @Sevagram for signature.

Bhoodan Worker took help of Gram Panchayat, PAtwari (village accountant) to survey the beneficiaries and land fertility.

First preference given to landless agricultural laborers, then to farmers with insufficient land.

A date was fixed, entire village gathered and the beneficiary family was given land.

Those who receive the donation are asked to sign a printed application requesting for land, after which they are presented with certificates of having received land.

No fees charged from the beneficiary.

Beneficiary was expected to cultivate the land for atleast 10 years. He should start within three years of the receipt of land.

These Rules/procedures were relaxed by taking local conditions, cultures in account.

Many state governments made legislation to facilitate donation and distribution of Bhoodan land. Example: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, U.P., Delhi and Himachal Pradesh.

Subsequently, the movement was widened into Gramdan. States again passed special legislation for management of Gramdan villages.

Bhoodan: Positive

In the initial years the movement achieved a considerable degree of success, especially in North India- UP, Bihar.

By 1956: receiving over 4 million acres of land as donation.

By 1957: ~4.5 million acres.

The movement was popularised in the belief that land is a gift of nature and it belonged to all.

The donors of land are not given any compensation. This movement helped to reduce the gap in haves and have-nots in rural areas.

This movement was un-official. The landlords were under no compulsion to donate their land, it was a voluntary movement.  One of the very few attempts after independence to bring about land reform through a movement

Promoted the Gandhian the idea of trusteeship or that all land belonged to God.

Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad

the Bhoodan and Gramdan movement stimulated political and other activity by the peasant masses

has created a favourable atmosphere for political propaganda and agitation

for redistribution of the land

for abolition of private ownership of land

for the development of agricultural producers’ cooperatives.

Bhoodan: Obstacles, Limitations, Problems

Slow progress

After ’56 movement lost its momentum.

While nearly 4.5 million acres of Bhoodan land was available- barely 6.5 lakh acres was actually distributed among 200,000 families (1957)

In some cases the donors took back their land from the Bhoodan workers for certain reasons.

This created doubts in the minds of some people about the continuity of the movement.


village leaders, or allotting authorities, demanded money from the poor for recommending their names for allotment. As a result, many underserving villagers also got land e.g those already having land/ those involved in trade-commerce.


Bhoodan movement created land hunger among landless.Some of them applied multiple times in the name of wives, children etc. to get more and more free land.

Donating bogus land

big landlords donated those land which were unfit for cultivation (or under court litigation). Such donations served no real purpose.

Disputed land

Sometimes Bhoodan workers would even accept disputed land as gift. Without verification.

Later the Matter would be stuck in court litigations and beneficiary would get nothing.


In the later phase, Bhoodan workers got associated with one or another political parties. Some of them tried to ‘use’ the Bhoodan organization as a means to gain political clout and dividends at the time of election.

Thus as the years passed, Bhoodan workers lost credibility and respect among villagers=>land gifts declined.


Since Bhoodan workers became political agents, Some landlords / Ex-Zamindars donated land as ‘bribe’ to Bhoodan workers- with hope of getting favourable returns e.g. ticket in local election, road-contracts, building contracts etc.

And if they (landlords) were not given such favours- they’d forcibly take back the Bhoodan land from the beneficiary later on.


Mere allotment of land=insufficient. Because landless farmer also needed seeds, fertilizer, irrigation etc.

Often the beneficiary couldn’t arrange loans for these inputs.

bureaucratic apathy

District officials were slow and inefficient in finishing the formalities of Bhoodan land transfers.

donated land remained idle for a number of years and the revenue for it had to be paid by the donor.


The average size of land given to beneficiary=0.5 to 3 acres.

Result: land fragmentation + diseconomies of scale + ‘disguised unemployment’ without any noticeable rise in agro-production.

Marxist Criticism

Bhoodan’s main purpose was to ‘serve as a brake on the revolutionary struggle of the peasants’

Thus idea of Bhoodan= reactionary, class collaborationist.

Missed the bigger picture

Bhoodan based on Gandhian idea of trusteeship. Some Socialists wanted this movement to realize the potential of trusteeship and launch mass civil disobedience against injustice.

The Sarvodaya Samaj, however, on the whole failed to make this transition: to build an active large-scale mass movement that would generate irresistible pressure for social transformation in large parts of the country.

All these loopholes, slowly and steadily, made the movement dysfunctional.

1999: Bihar government dissolved the State Bhoodan Committee for its inability to distribute even half the Bhoodan land available over the past thirty-eight years.

Thus, Vinoba’s lofty ideal remained more as a philosophy and was never realized fully.

Gramdan (Donation of the Entire Village)

First Gramdan

1952: by the village of Mongroth in U.P.1955: Orissa, Koratpur district.

At a later phase, this progamme was extended to other states in Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Gramdan: Concept/Principles

Gramdan may be defined as an experiment in collective village living.

Original idea comes from Gandhi’s reply to Jamnalal Bajaj: “it is far better for a hundred families in a village to cultivate their land collectively and divide the income therefrom than to divide the land any how into a hundred portions”.

Vinoba Bhave popularized ^this concept of Gandhi.

Gramdan Mechanism

The villagers have to sign a declaration saying, “We are vesting the ownership of all our land to the “Gram Sabha” of the village.

This Gram Sabha/ Village council will unanimously nominate ten to fifteen persons who will form an executive Committee.

This executive Committee will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the village.

The decisions of the Committee will be ratified by the Council.

In other words, Gramdan=A Gram Sabha like institution collectively owned and managed entire land/farms of the villagers.

Gramdan: Benefits

In an ideal gramdan village, there will be no landowners, and no absentee landlords.

The labourers will give all their earnings to the village community, which will then distribute it according to needs.

Thus, gramdan acts as the ideal unit for putting the principles in the practice, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

By 1960

Approx.Gramdan Villages











Gramdan movement was considered superior to the Bhoodan movement because:



land fragmentation, inefficient cultivation, distribution of poverty, decline in marketable surplus , donation of uncultivable land, legal and other difficulties of redistribution, etc.



Economies of scale

Benefits only the person who gets the land

Sarvodaya of entire village. Everyone benefits.


possible to correlate with economic planning in the country.

2nd FYP recognized that Gramdan village have great significance for co-operative village development.

Limitation of Gramdan? Gramdan was successful mainly in villages where class differentiation had not yet emerged and there was little if any disparity in ownership of land or other property. E.g. Tribal villages. But didn’t find cooperation from other villages in the plains or villages near urban centers.

Pardi Satyagraha, Gujarat, 50s


Socialist workers: Iswarbhai Desai, Ashok Mehta.

Kisan Panchayat: a non-political body with no affiliation to any political party.

Tribals from Pardi and Dharmpur Taluka




75% of the agro land was owned by 100 big landlords.

These landlords were not interested in farming. They kept the land as such- so grass automatically grew and sold profitably in Bombay fodder trade.

Local tribals would get labour work in such ‘fodder-farms’ for only 1-2 months during harvesting. They remained jobless and starving for remaining months. While the landlords made decent profit with almost none investment or efforts.


Redistribution of land was not on their agenda. (Themselves declared it)

Satyagrahi would enter in the private land and start tilling to grow foodcrops and court arrest.

Tribals to boycott grass cutting work. even outside labour would not be allowed do the work. Picketing. As a result, the grass dried up at many places.

With time, movement found support from public and political parties

Bhoodan and Gramdan movements also started but failed thanks to poor response from landlords.

Result? Almost #EPICFAIL because:

1960, Gujarat created out of Bombay state. New state government made some promises=>Iswarbhai and other Satyagrahi joined the Congress party. Hence momentum/pressure was lost.

1965: War between India Pakistan. The CM (Balwant Rai Mehta) died in plane crash. New CM (Hitendra Desai) did not show much interest in fulfilling promises made by previous CM.

Landlords went to Gujarat Highcourt court. Although HC rejected their plea, but state government did not show any urgency to implement the agreements.

1966: Ishwarbhai Desai decide to quit congress and launch a new Satyagraha, but he died. And others were unable to provide effective leadership/direction to the movement.

1967: A new agreement between the government, the landlords and the Satyagrahis. But the implementation carried out at a snail’s pace.

Great Land Struggle, 1970s




Bhartiya Khet Mazdoor Union, All India Kisan Sabha and Communist Party of India

Nearly 15 lakh agricultural workers, poor peasants, the tribals, workers and the poor from the towns

Trade unions and students, the youth and the women’s organizations came forward and directly participated in the struggle.


militant mass movement


 to highlight the fact that land is concentrated in the hands of a few landlords, former princess, zamindars and monopolists and to alert public attention to the urgent need for radical agrarian reforms.


Occupy the government lands, forest lands, the land belonging to landlords, monopolist, black marketeers.

Start cultivating on ^above land

Landless fight for full ownership of land

Tenants fight to reduce rent

Tribals fight for tribal land grabbed by forest contractors and moneylenders from the plains.

Urban poors fight for vacant land for housing

Everyone fight to get radical amendments to the present ceiling laws and distribution of surplus land.





JULY, 1970

Occupying government land and forest land

all the states, except Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and J & K,

AUGUST, 1970

Occupying huge farms of landlords, former princes, Monopolists like Birlas etc.

all states, except Assam (due to heavy flood) and Kerala (due to Mid-term election) participated.

Overall, More than 2 lakh acres of land was occupied, more than lakhs of people arrested.


While Bhoodan movement silently faded away from public memory and political arena silently, but the great land Satyagraha, created ripples in the public mind and ruling party.

Before the land struggle, the Union and the state governments never felt the urgency of solving the land problem. But now, Every state government came out with figures & plans to distribute wasteland among the poor.

For the first time, land distribution started in actual practice, and some landless people got Pattas of land.

Birlas were exposed as the biggest land grabber of India. Their farms in Uttaranchal and Punjab were distributed to farm labourers.

Government appointed Central Land Reform Committee to address agrarian inequalities in the country.

Land for Tillers Freedom (LAFTI), Tamil Nadu, 80s

LAFTI was founded by Krishnammal and her husband Jagannathan in 1981.

Features/Actions by LAFTI

Earlier we saw how rich farmers in Tamilnadu transfereed their land to fake trusts/charitable organizations/ schools, hospitals and dharrnashalas to avoid land ceiling.

LAFTI organized people against such illegal holdings and pleaded government to takeover such land and redistribute it among the landless poor.

Highlighted the loopholes in the land related acts. LAFTI petitioned the President of India about the weaknesses in the Benami transection ordinance and how landlords evaded ceilings.

Negotiated with banks and landlords for a reasonable price for the purchase of land. And then redistributed it among landless.

Generally, the nationalized bank charged a high rate of interest (14%) for offering loan for the land transfer projects. LAFTI appealed to the government of India to reduce interest rate to 4%.

Requested government to waive stamp-duty and registration fees for transferring land to landless.

Started its own banking scheme, titled “LAFTI Land Bank”, by involving 10000 landless families. These 10000 people deposited. Re. 1 per day or Rs. 10 per week or Rs. 500 per year for five years.

With this money and help from the government in the form of exemption of stamp duties and registration fees, LAFTI planned to transfer 500 acres of land per year to the landless families.

Land Satyagraha, Chattisgarh, late 80s


Land ceiling act were not implemented because nexus between the land mafia, landlords, bureaucrats, politicians.

Under government’s land distribution schemes- the landless were provided with Pattas (land ownership document) but landmafias / rich farmers / forest contractors did not allow them to physically occupy the land.

State Government made it mandatory for all the landlords to give back tribal land to the tribals. But these landlords would appeal in higher courts and matter kept pending for years.

The tribals lacked the money and means to fight such legal battles. State government didn’t come to their help.

Most of the landless were SC/ST. They were forcibly pushed out of their ancestral land, working as bonded labour because of indebtedness to the rich landlords or village traders.

By 1980′s, there were 4000 bonded labourers in Raipur district alone.


1988: Land Satyagraha launched in Raipur district. Spearheaded by bonded labours



Zamin Ka Faisla, Zamin Par Hoga (All land issues will be settled on the land itself).

Staging dharnas (sit-ins), hunger strikes on the disputed land.

All the concerned officials, including from police to Patwari, Tehsildar to magistrate should come the disputed land and settle the matter.

Zamin Do Ya Jail Do” (give us land or imprisonment).

Peasants would court arrest and go to jail in a peaceful manner.

1993: thousands of villages courted arrest

Finally government officials refused to arrest people as there was no room left in Jails.


Blocking traffic on the mains roads.

“Jaun Khet man nagar Chalahi, wohi khet ke malik ho” (land to the tiller)

directly plough the fields with or without government intervention.

At almost all the places, the poor, landless, and small farmers went in large numbers with their ploughs and bullocks, to register their claim over the ancestral land.

At some places people were able to register their control over the land, whereas in other places the official, in connivance with the landlords and the powerful politician, forcibly dispossessed the people from the land.

The land Satyagraha initiated a new dimension, a new movement, among the people to take control over their resources.

Bhu-Adhikar Abhiyan, MP, 1996

Ekta Parishad is an NGO from Madhya Pradesh (1984). On principles of “Samvad, Sangharsh, Rachna” (dialogue, struggle and construction). They conducted survey in MP and found two main problems faced by SC/ST:

Land belonging to Scheduled tribe was illegally sold to outsiders thanks to land mafia, forest contractors and corrupt bureaucrats.

Non Occupant Patta Holder leased their land poor farmers (occupant cultivators) and exploited them via high rent and random eviction.

Ekta Parishad has launched a people’s movement with the following objectives.

Give Patta (land ownership document) to occupant cultivators.

To oppose the policy of inviting tenders from private companies, instead of giving land to the landless.

To enforce joint ownership of husband and wife on the property. (recall the lack of gender equity in land ownership)

Scrap the afforestation programmes funded by the World Bank. Because the money was misused.

To resolve the problems of settlement of revenue land.

Result? Government appointed a Committee but it was meaningless eyewash.

Janadesh, 2007

By Ekta Parishad and sister organization / civil society / NGOs

~25000 landless tillers, labourers, Dalits and tribals, who have been deprived of their land rights, marched from Gwalior to Delhi to assert the land rights of the poor.


Enact national land rights act.

setup national land authority.

setup land reforms council

fast track courts for land reforms

Result? These demands were met at least half-way by the government, but implementation and follow-up was poor.

Jan Satyagraha 2012

About Ekta Parishad (NGO) so far we’ve seen:


Ekta Parishad had been working for Land reforms in MP since the 80s.=>State government setup committee just for eyewash.


They organized Jansandesh. Government agreed but implementation was poor.


they consulted with many other NGOs/organizations to form a broader alliance for land rights.

trained community leaders and activists from the weaker sections to run the next peaceful movement


started ‘Jan Satyagraha Samvad Yatra’ over 24 states to hold public meetings and dialogues with people.


Ekta Parishad founder P.V. Rajagopal started Jan Satyagraha Yatra (foot march) from Gwalior on 1st October 2012.

Their plan was to reach Delhi with 1 lakh people by 28th October 2012.

But Jairam (rural ministry that time), agreed with their demands and hence Yatra stopped @Agra.

Jan Satyagraha 2012 demanded following:

#1: General Demands

Bhoodaan Land= do physical verification again and take back land from encroachers/ineligible persons.

Womens Land Rights: To ensure that land owned by a family is recoded either in the name of a woman or jointly in the name of the man and the woman.

Revisit land ceiling laws- implement them effectively.

Identify of lands encroached by ineligible persons and restore it back to original owner.

Identify tribal lands alienated to the non-tribals and restore it back.

Use MNREGA etc. schemes to doing irrigation projects, land development, wasteland restoration etc. activities.

If government acquired land for industrial projects but it was untilized=>give it back to poors.

Written Records of tenancy to help tenant farmers get bank loans.

Protect/provide burial grounds and pathway to burial grounds, especially to the most vulnerable communities in the villages;

Land record management in most transparent manner

Statutory State Land Rights Commissions to monitor the progress of land reform.

State governments need to run campaigns to give land to Nomads and settle them permanently.

Protect the land rights of following vulnerable groups

Tribal Groups

Single Women

HIV Affected People

Siddhis (Gujarat & Karnatka)


Slum inhabitants


Leprosy affected people

Physically /Mentally Challenged People

Tea Tribes

Salt/Mine/Bidi Workers

Pastoral communities

Bonded Labourers

Internally Displaced People (due to infra.projects)

#2: PESA related Demands:

Harmonize state revenue laws with PESA 1996, to give gram sabha the power over land matters.

For any sale/mortgage of land in the village- Gram Sabha must be notified in writing.

For any changes in land records, Gram Sabha must be notified in writing.

authorize Gram Sabha to call for relevant revenue records,

conduct a hearing and direct the SDMs to conduct hearings and restore illegally occupied land

Expand the list of Schedule V villages to include more eligible villages under PESA

Enforce in letter and spirit, the ‘Samata Judgment’ in all acquisition of tribal land for private companies

Governments need to make amendments in State laws that are in conflict with PESA within a period of one year.

#3: Forest Rights Act (FRA) related Demands

bank loan facilities for land grander under FRA

Give land rights to tribals who were earlier displaced due to National Parks and Wild life Sanctuaries

Settlement of Forest Rights before land acquisition related projects are started.

The primitive tribal groups don’t have any documents/evidences to prove their occupation of land/residence. So they must be exempted from furnishing of evidence of residence as required under Forest Rights Act.

‘Orange Areas’ in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where large extent of land is under dispute between Revenue Department and the Forest Department =>settle this matter immediately.

Outcome of Jan Satyagraha 2012?

Jan Satyagraha leaders agreed to discontinue their march, after Rural ministry agreed to setup Task Force on Land Reforms to implement the following agenda:

jairam land satyagraha


Union government agreed that:

National land reform policy

Land reform is state subject but we will come up with a national land reform policy- with inputs from state governments, civil society and public.


like MNREGA and Forest rights act, we’ll come up with new laws for

giving land to poors in backward districts

guarantee 10 cents of homestead to every landless poor household in entire India.


we’ll advice state governments to implement their existing laws to protect the land rights of SC/ST.


we’ll work with States to run Fast Track Land Tribunals/Courts for speedy disposal of land dispute related cases particularly involving SC/ST.


Rural ministry with work with Tribal ministry and Panchayati raj ministry + state governments for implementation of PESA 1996. (but then why were you sleeping all these years?)


Tribal ministry has issued revised rules for Forest rights Act 2006. We’ll ask States to implement them quickly.


we’ll ask states to setup joint teams of forest+Revenue officials to do the survey of the forest and revenue boundaries to resolve disputes

 Topic#1: Consolidation of Land Holdings

What is Consolidation of Land holdings?

Converting many small and fragmented holdings into one big farm.

Process by which farmers are convinced to get, one or two compact farms in place of their fragmented farms.

Process in which farmers’ fragmented land holdings are pooled and then re-allotted them in a way that each gets a single farm of having same total size and fertility like his previous fragmented landholdings.

1750s: Denmark was the first country to start land consolidation.

Why do we need Consolidation of Land holdings?

Farms in India are not only small in size but also lie scattered.

Scattered farms=lot of time, energy and money wasted in moving men and material from one farm to another= sub-optimal use of resources.

Hence land consolidation = essential for progressive farming/ capitalist methods / mechanization of agriculture.

What are the methods of Land consolidation?

#1: Voluntary Consolidation

If the farmers themselves agree to voluntarily consolidate their land holdings.

started in Punjab, in 1921



done by local co-operative societies.

does not lead to any dispute

no pressure/coercion exerted on anybody.

very slow.

Zamindars usually create hurdles in its progress.

Sometimes a few obstinate (Stubborn) farmers oppose the scheme.

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and W.Bengal have passed laws for voluntary consolidation.

#2: Compulsory Consolidation

When consolidation is made compulsory by law, it is called compulsory consolidation.

Again two subtypes:

Partial compulsory consolidation

Complete Compulsion

If a majority of farmers in a village agree to get their holdings consolidated, then the rest of the farmers too will have to get their fragmented holdings consolidated.

1923: MP passed first act.

1936: Punjab passed act. according to this act:  IF 66% of the farmers owning 75% of the village land, agreed for land consolidation, then remaining farmers will have to compulsory agree.

In this case, state government make law to compulsory land consolidation (irrespective of how many farmers actually want it)

1947: Bombay state (now Maharashtra) was the first state to enact compulsory

1948: Punjab also passed similar act.

Now many states have passed laws to this effect.

(2004 data) overall, more than 1500 lakh hectares land has been consolidated so far. High performer states: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Slow progress elsewhere.

(+ve) Land Consolidation: Benefits, Advantages, Positive points

Scientific methods of cultivation, better irrigation, mechanization = possible on consolidated holdings = reduces cost of production + increases income.

Saves farmer’s time, energy and money in moving from one farm to the other.

Farmer feels encouraged to spend money on the improvement of his land.

No land is wasted in making boundaries between tiny farms.

Surplus land after consolidation can be used for construction of gardens, school, Panchayat Ghar, roads, play grounds and desi liquor dens for the benefit of entire village.

(-ve) Land consolidation: Difficulties, Obstacles, Negative points

Indian farmer has orthodox mindset. He does not want to part with the land of his ancestors, even if it the principles of modern agri.science/business management advocate land consolidation.

Rich farmers own large tracts of fertile land. They oppose consolidation fearing some other farmer will get part of their fertilize land. (And typical frog mindset: if I cannot climb out of well, no problem, but I’ll not let any other frog to climb out of well either.)

In many areas, farming done on oral agreements, there are no paper records.

Land quality/Price within tehsil will vary depending on irrigation and fertility. So, one farmer will have to pay money (or receive money) depending on land quality, while they exchange their land with each other.

But this price determination is difficult because of lack of land surveys, agri.surveys and inefficient/corrupt revenue officials.

Revenue official @village / Tehsil level are inefficient and not trained in this type of technical work.

Recall Ashok Khemka (the IAS officer who exposed Raabert Vadra/DLF scam.) Earlier, Ashok Khemka was Director General Consolidation of Land holdings in Haryana. He exposed how land consolidation related provision were misused in Faridabad district of Haryaya. modus operandi was following:

the real estate mafias/dalal type elements would first buy small patches of unfertile land scattered in Aravalli hills (using xyz farmers under benami transection.)

then they would bribe local tehsildar, patwari to get fragment farms exchanged for consolidated big farms near the foothills where national/state highways are to be constructed in future=>can be sold at extremely high prices after 5-10-15 years=truckload of profit with minimum effort. Thus original purpose of land consolidation (to increase agro. productivity) is defeated.

Anyways, enough of land consolidation, let’s move to the second topic:

Topic#2: Cooperative Farming

What is cooperative Farming?

Cooperative farming refers to an organisation in which:

each member-farmer remains the owner of his land individually.

But farming is done jointly.

Profit is distributed among the member-farmers in the ratio of land owned by them.

Wages distributed among the member-farmers according to number of days they worked.

In other words, Cooperative farming= pooling of land and practicing joint agriculture. Cooperative farming is not a new concept in India. Since ancient times, Indian farmers have been giving mutual aid to each other in weeding, harvesting etc. Examples

Traditional Cooperative Farming System






Why Cooperative farming?

Because it gives following benefits/advantages/potential:

Economies of scale:

As the size of farm increases, the per hectare cost of using tube-well, tractor comes down.

Small farms=some land is wasted in forming the ‘boundaries’ among them. When they’re combined into a big cooperative farm, we can also cultivate on that boundary land.

overall, Large farms are economically more beneficial than small farms.

Solves the problem of sub-division and fragmentation of holdings.

Cooperative farm has more men-material-money resources to increase irrigation potential and land productivity. Members would not have been able to do it individually on their small farm.

Case studies generally point out that with cooperative farming, per acre production increases.

India towards Cooperative Farming

before independence

Gandhi, Nehru, Socialists and Communists agreed that cooperative farming will improve Indian agriculture and benefit the poor.

Bombay Plan’44

Cooperative farming is the only way to combat sub-marginal cultivation.

Government should compel small/marginal farmers to undertake cooperative farming.

Cooperative Planning Committee’45

large scale cultivation is the only solution to increase agro-production permanently.

Suggested four types of cooperative farming societies viz.

better farming

tenant farming

joint farming

Collective farming society.

Economic Program committee’47

headed by Nehru. Recommended that:

All middlemen should be replaced by non-profit making agencies, such as cooperatives.

Pilot schemes for cooperative farming among small land holders in India.

We’ll promote cooperative farming through persuasion, goodwill and agreement of the peasantry.

We’ll not use any legal or administrative force/compulsion/coercion to make small farmers start cooperative farming.

Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee’49

headed by Kumarappa recommended that:

Empower the state governments to enforce cooperative farming among peasants with uneconomic land holdings/extremely small farms.

Use intelligent propaganda/awareness campaigns to promote cooperative farming.

Give state aid/ subsidies to cooperative farms.

Specially trained cadre/officials to train and motivate farmers in cooperative farming.

So, this is the first time, someone suggested the State to use “Compulsion” to promote cooperatives.

Cooperative Farming vs Five Year Plans

First Five Year Plan (1951-56)

Apart from Cooperative farming, it also recommended ‘Cooperative Village Management’ as a more comprehensive solution for rural development.

Encourage small and middle farmers to form cooperative farming societies

If majority of farmers agreed to start cooperative farming, then decision will be binding on the entire village.

But did not talk about giving enforcement powers to States.

Result? ~2000 cooperative farming societies formed during the First Plan period.

Second Five Year Plan (1956-61)

1956: Indian delegations sent to China to study their cooperative farming. Recommended this system in to increase food grain production.

Develop cooperative farming as soon as possible.

Target: Setup atleast one cooperative farm in every National Extension Block, or about 5000 for the whole country.

Hoped to convert substantial proportion of Indian farms into cooperative farming by a period of ten years.

Nagpur resolution of Congress, 1959

Cooperative farming will be the the future agrarian pattern of India.

farmers will continue to retain their property rights

but their land will  be pooled for joint cultivation.

Farmers will get a share in the profit, in proportion to their land.

Further, those who actually work on the land, will get wages, in proportion of their work-contribution (irrespective of whether they own the land or not.) = in other words, cooperative farming will give employment to landless labourers also. In a way, this was a solution to the #epicfail of land ceiling (because so far governments could not takeover the surplus land from big farmers and redistribute it among landless laborers).

Start cooperatives related to agro-credit, marketing, seeds-fertilizer etc. Finish this stage within 3 years. Then focus entirely on cooperative farming.

Epicfail of Nagpur resolution

After Nagpur resolution, Many people inside and outside congress, opposed the idea.


said what?

C. Rajagopalachari

N.G. Ranga

Charan Singh

Cooperative farming would lead to forced collectivization on the Soviet or Chinese pattern.

Nehru is imposing a totalitarian, Communist programme upon the country.

Nehru (clarifies in Parliament)

we’re not going to make any law/act to coerce anyone to start cooperative farming.

Later Chinese attack on Tibet and India. Critiques start pointing out how Nehru’s policies are hurting India.

Recall, earlier we sent delegations to China, to study their cooperative farming system. But now there is Anti-China mood in press and public. Hence, gradually Congress gives up the idea of cooperative farming.

Third Plan (1961-66)

Observed that nearly 40% of the cooperative farms are not functioning properly.

Advocated better implementation of community development program, credit societies, agri-marketing etc. for getting success in cooperative farming.

~300 pilot projects in selected district. Each project having 10 cooperative societies.

Overall, Third Five year plan tried to put a brave face, again reaffirming the government’s faith in cooperative farming, but overall, wishful platitude not a plan of action.

Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74)

Observed that cooperative farming programs have not made any substantial progress.

(therefore) It is not been possible to propose any additional programmes for cooperative farming in this Plan

Instead, we should focus on development of agricultural credit, marketing, processing and consumer needs.

In co-operative farming, funding priority only for revitalizing of the existing weak societies.

But avoid setting up new cooperative farming societies, unless they have a potential for growth.

So, overall we can see that by early 70s, Planning commission’s faith/interest in cooperative farming is vanishing.

Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79)

Made no mention of cooperative farming.

It did allot some ca$H under the heading “Cooperation”, but it was only meant for inter-farm co-operative service facilities e.g. seed-fertilizer-water supply, use of tractors/agro-machineries etc.

After this era, five year plans give more attention (and ca$H) to wasteland management, poverty removal etc. and cooperative farming loses its relevance.

Cooperative Farming: Limitations/Epicfail

Miscalculations and false hopes

Early planners and policymakers had hoped that

Village panchayat and (Congress) party workers will help implementing cooperative farming, but response was lukewarm.

Cooperative farming = government will have to spend less money on agriculture (+less leakage in subsidies). But the scenario didn’t change.

During 2nd FYP, the National Development Council proposed that in the next five years agricultural production be increased by 25-35% via cooperative farming. But most state government shied away from taking necessary initiatives.

Bogus farms and apathetic bureaucrats

by and large Cooperative farming societies fell into two categories:

Type#1: by big farmers = bogus farms

They’d setup bogus cooperative farms by showing agri.labourers/tenants as bogus members. But in reality none of them owned the land individually.

this was done to evade land ceiling and tenancy reform laws.

Adding insult to the injury: government even gave them subsidies for seeds, fertilizers etc.

At times, non-working members had been enrolled in order to fulfil the minimum requirements of registration.

Even in legit/genuine cooperative farming societies, the rich farmers dominate the management positions.

Sometimes societies setup with members of just one or two families to get various subsidies/support.

Type#2: by State sponsorship= apathetic bureaucrats

State sponsored cooperative farms as part of pilot projects under FYP.

Government would allot land to the landless, SC/ST, Displaced persons etc.

but they did not get adequate support from government agencies for irrigation, electricity, seeds-fertilizer, extension services etc.

these farms were run like government-sponsored projects rather than genuine, motivated, joint efforts of the cultivators. Result? These experiments were unsuccessful. No gain in productivity.

Later, those farmers started cultivating land individual (though on papers, the land continued to be owned by the ‘cooperative societies’.)

#Epicfail in Bihar:

Cooperative farming societies were formed on Bhoodan land- for the landless labourers.

But later, they started individual farming, although officially the land still continues to be in the name of the societies.

Free riders

Some member-farmers become lazy, thinking why bother when we’ll get the same amount of profit in proportion of the land owned. Just like those free-rider students in MBA/Engineering College who do not contribute anything for the powerpoint projects yet get full credits/marks for being member of the group.

This demotivated sincere farmers from working hard on such cooperative farms.

+ Entry of idiots with political patronage and caste affiliations entering in cooperative farming activities, with their own vested interests.

Ultimately, nobody takes interest in the actual farming and entire project turns flop.

Overall, Cooperative farming didn’t grow beyond the government projects and the bogus cooperatives.

anyways, enough of cooperative farming, let’s move to the third and last topic of this article:

Topic#3: Computerization of Land Records

Under the British Raj, Land Revenue =significant source of income for the British. so they maintained accurate, up-to-date land records.

But after independence, Revenue administration falls under “non-plan” expenditure = doesn’t get much budgetary allocation.

As a result, revenue department won’t hire many officers/employees, won’t bother building new offices, buying new photocopiers, survey devices, jeeps etc.

Ultimately records became outdated.

But after 80s, there was need for up-to-date land records for industrial purpose, acquiring land for railways, highways, industries. Up to date land records also help implementing land reforms, designing agricultural policies and resolving court cases.

So Union government comes up with two schemes in the late 80s:

Strengthening of Revenue Administration & Updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR)

Computerization of Land Records (CLR)

Later, both schemes merged together into a single scheme NLRMP in 2008. (Imagine the relief of UPSC aspirants in that era upon knowing they had to mugup just one scheme instead of two!)

National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP)


Department of Land Resources under Rural Development Ministry.



It has four components:

Computerize the property records. Encourage states to legalize computerized copies with digital signatures.

Computerize the registration process: link Sub- registrar ’s office with revenue offices. This helps in real-time online synchronization of data.

do surveys and prepare maps using modern technology- global positioning system (GPS), aerial photography, high resolution satellite imagery (HRSI) etc.

HRD, training, capacity building, awareness generation and other fancy things.

Target: cover all districts by the end of 12th Five year plan.

Funding pattern of NLRMP

Just for information:


% funding by:



computerize land records





10% north eastern states


50% other states

computerize registration process, link sub-registrar’s office with revenue offices


10% north eastern states


75% other states

modern record rooms in Tehsil offices


10% north eastern states


50% other states

training, capacity building



Core GIS



Benefits/Potential of NLRMP

Provides security of property rights with conclusive titles and title guarantee.

Minimizes land disputes.

Efficient functioning of the economic operations based on land, and overall efficiency of the economy.

Integrated land information management system with up-to-date and real time land records. =>even after drought/famine/disaster, helps government to award compensation to needy farmers.

Even helps providing other land-based certificates such as caste certificates, income certificates, domicile certificates; information for whether given citizen is eligible for xyz. Government scheme or not.

no need for stamp papers

stamp duty and registration fees can be paid even through banks.

Computerized entries=less opportunities for patwari to demand bribes.

NLRMP is a demand driven scheme. States/UT frame the project according their local requirements, send their file to Delhi and get the ca$h.

provides location specific information to planners and policymakers.

helps e-linkages to credit facilities/banks.


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