Land Reforms in India: Objectives, Importance, Need, Land Reforms in India UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Land Reforms in India are a concept that has been prevailing ever since British rule in the country. Usually, land reforms refer to the distribution of land from rich people to poor ones. There are several types of land reforms, including those conserving land ownership, operation, inheritance, leasing, and sale. The objective of land reforms in India includes the upgradation of the rural population status, safeguarding the soil tillers, etc. The history of land reforms in India has been stratified into two major sections that are pre-independence period and the post-independence period.

The components of land reforms in India include the reforms pertaining to tenancy, elimination of the intermediaries, fixing of ceilings on landholdings, and consolidation of landholdings. This topic is related to the Indian economy. It also has relevance to the history of India. Hence, it becomes important to learn about this topic. In this article, we have provided all objectives, needs, importance, and other facts about land reforms in India that would be beneficial for UPSC aspirants.

What are Land Reforms?

The term “land reform” refers to the reforms made in the fields of land ownership and land regulation. The foremost objective of land reforms in India is to establish equality in society. This will be a savior for the citizens living in drastic and severe conditions. It is the reallocation of the lands from the riches having more land spaces to the people living in distress and facing hardships.

  • Also, simply, we can say that the redistribution of land by the government from the landowners to the landless people is called land reform.
  • Because India is an agrarian economy with a scarcity of wealth and an unequal land distribution pattern, there is a strong economic and political case for land reforms.

Objectives of Land Reforms in India

Land distribution has been part of India’s state policy ever since the British rule of India. This process started first with the abolition of the Zamindari system, and hence it proved to be the most revolutionary land policy of independent India. The major objectives of land reforms in India were:

  • To remove the stone wallings that have been in the agricultural structure for many generations.
  • The second goal of the land reforms in India was to remove all the elements that were hindrances to the agrarian system.
  • The third main objective of land reforms was to give this security to the soil tiller and make sure to provide the quality of status and best opportunities for all the sections belonging to the rural population.

Need for Land Reforms in India

The need for land reforms in India is mandatory for the judicious redistribution of the land. It also assists in mitigating the social inequalities in the country and uplifting the status of the poor and marginal farmers. The limit of tenancy was introduced which further added to the judicious distribution of the land. The village Panchayats kept a record of the land tenancy.

This was needed to address concerns of rural poverty. It also focussed on socialist development to mitigate the issues of social inequality. These reforms were also needed to uplift the status of women in the patriarchal society. It also focused on increasing agricultural productivity. It safeguarded the interests of the tribals by keeping their lands safe.

History of Land Reforms in India

The history of land reforms in India can be divided into two phases, that are pre-independence India and post-independence India. Check out the events in both phases and their differences.

The Pre-independence Period

In the pre-independence period, farmers didn’t own any land. Rather, the land on which they cultivated the crops was owned by the Zamindars and Jagirdars.

  • The land was held by a few rich people, and there were a good number of intermediaries who didn’t have any vested interest in cultivation.
  • Seizing of lands was a common practice and records of lands were terrible, which led to a slew of lawsuits.
  • The land was divided into small sections for commercial farming, which eventually decreased the productivity of the land.
  • The boundary disputes and the boundary lands resulted in inefficient use of labor, capital, and soil.

The Post-Independence Period of Land Reforms in India

To investigate the land issue. A committee was formed under the chairmanship of JC Kumarappan.

  • The agrarian reforms were strongly recommended in the report suggested by the Kumarappa committee.
  • Later abolition of intermediaries, tenancy reforms, a fixation of ceilings for land holdings, and consolidation of land holdings made up the land reforms for independent India.
  • As a result, they were implemented in different stages to establish a political will in order to make these reforms accepted nationwide.

Importance of Land Reforms in India

The importance of land reforms in India addresses the issues of persisting and prevailing inequalities. It plays an instrumental role in eliminating rural poverty. It also caters to the issues of gender inequalities. The establishment of land reforms in India has taken into account and addressed numerous issues such as the ones listed here-

  • Peasants were afraid of being evicted.
  • Poverty was ingrained in the farmer’s class.
  • Extreme peasant indebtedness.
  • Formation of a class of wealthy individuals who exploited the poor peasantry.

Components of Land Reforms in India

The four major components of the land reforms in India are such as the abolition of the intermediaries, fixation of ceilings, tenancy reforms, consolidation of landholdings, etc. The land reforms in India provide justice to landless farmers and the best utilization of the lands.

Abolishing the Intermediaries

The first thing that was abolished was the Zamindari system, which ultimately reduced the number of intermediates who were between the cultivators and the buyers.

This abolition of the intermediate was of great advantage as it helped to remove the parasitic class and a large amount of land was given to the government for distribution among the landless farmers.

Fixation of Ceilings on Landholdings

In simple terms, this means that the area of land provided to each cultivator was limited beyond which they could not hold any extra land for their farm.

In 1942, the Kumarappan committee tested the recommendations for the maximum size of land that a landlord could hold, which was three times the capacity of an economic holding and sufficient for a family.

Tenancy Reforms

The tenancy was another major problem, as, during the British period in India, the cultivators were supposed to pay between 35 and 75% of the gross production throughout India.

Consolidation of Landholdings

Consolidation means the redistribution of the portions of land into one plot, which results in consolidated land holdings.

  • In Punjab and Haryana, the consolidation of land holdings was compulsory, whereas in other states it was voluntary.
  • Soon after that, nearly all the states accepted this consolidation, except some parts of Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland Kerala, Manipur, and Tamil Nadu did not apply this reform.

Impacts of Land Reforms in India

The major impacts of land reforms in India lie in agricultural productivity and social equity. The land reforms in India focus on enhancing agricultural productivity and judicious use of land resources. The impacts of Land Reforms in India are as follows-

  • Agricultural Productivity: Due to land reforms, the wasteland belonging to big farmers/ Zamindars that remained uncultivated was taken up for agriculture. As a result, there is an increase in the area under cultivation which leads to food security.
  • Social Equity: In the rural economy, whoever has control over the land, has the power. In a land-scarce country with a huge amount of rural population below the poverty line, land reform ensures that everyone has a minimum amount of land to ensure financial stability. It also reduced the inequality among the villagers.

Limitations of Land Reforms

There are numerous farmers in India who are still indebted. The land reforms in India’s foremost objective was to mitigate rural poverty. However, it still prevails and exists in the scenario. The land ceiling witnesses an alteration according to the state. There are many plantations that are free from ceilings. Many people also possess the lands illegally.

Land Reforms in India UPSC

Land reform in India topic is a part of the Indian Economy and slightly has a connection to modern Indian history. Therefore, it becomes important to learn this topic from both UPSC Prelims and Mains exam perspectives. The aspirants preparing for the IAS exams can get the Indian Economy books to dive deeper into the concepts and also download the study material, do not forget to practice UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to strengthen your preparation.

Land Reforms in India UPSC PDF

Candidates can download the land reforms in India PDF to gain a complete understanding of the topic.

Land Reforms in India Sample Question

The candidates must solve the questions pertaining to land reforms in India. Solving the questions will enable the candidates in getting insights into the core concepts and fundamentals. The sample question will assist the candidates in assessing their level of performance.

Question 1. Consider the following statements on land reforms-[1] The reorganization of fragmented land into one plot was referred to as consolidation. [2] Land pressure has decreased which lead to a growing trend of land fragmentation.

Which of the statements above is/are correct? A) 1 only, B) 2 only, C) 1 and 3,  D) 2 and 3,  E) None of the above

Answer. Option A, 1 only. The reorganization of fragmented land into one plot was referred to as consolidation.

Question 2: Which of the following statements is right, with reference to the land reforms in independent India? [1] Land reforms allowed no exemptions to the limits of the ceilings. [2.] The main objective of the land reforms was to facilitate lands to the landless.[3.] The outcome of the land reforms was that it made the production of cash crops as the predominant mode of production.

Answer: Option [2] The main objective of the land reforms was to facilitate lands to the landless.

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