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Land Reforms Undertaken in India

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Abolition of Zamindari : This reform in 1950s abolished the zamindari system and acknowledged the ‘occupancy rights'(person to whom the land actually belongs)of peasants. However it failed to recognise the tiller’s rights.

Tenancy rights: This land reform afterwards observed the rights of tenants, ensuring them tenure, thereby incentive to produce more. This reform did not succeed for its failure to legally register tenants, except in Communist ruled states, where govt was proactive in registering Operation Barga in Bengal.

  • Redistribution of free lands: this reform started by Vinobha Bahve did not succeed much for the reason that land provided for free were mostly fallow and uncultivable.
  • Consolidation reforms: Under this, farmers were asked to voluntarily consoildate their land to increase productivity and it failed because of the fear of farmers of losing their fertile land and probablity of getting fallow land.
  • Cooperative farming: Although it was not legally recognised, government promoted cooperative farming , which again did not yield fruit, since lack of cooperation among farmers.

India being an agricultural land could have reaped benefits rather reeling under agri-crisis had these reforms been implemented in leeter and spirit. Therefore govt should reorient from market led land reforms towards thses among which consolidation and cooperative farming are still viable and promising of showing results.

Land reforms(LRs) is a institutionalist strategy to transform relations between land and man.

Objectives of LRs:

  • Enhance farmer’s incomes and hence standard of living
  • Boost GDP
  • Social justice to all those involved in agriculture: Tenants, marginal farmers and share-croppers.
  • Enhance productivity

Land reforms in India:

  1. Zamindari Abolition:
    • Successful in states like West Bengal and Kerala due to political will and strong rural mass social base.
    • But failed in other states due to lack of political will, corruption, bureaucratic apathy and zamindar’s big hand in influencing the implementation.
  2. Land ceiling:
    • It has resulted in re-distribution of land and promoted equity. Land was taken from individuals if it is higher than ceiling and given to landless ones.
    • But failed in some states because of benamis, poor implementation, lack of proper land records and ansentee landlords
  3. Tenancy reforms:
    • They have secured rights, term of employment to tenant. They prevented exploitation of tenants.
    • But absentee landlordism, poor voice of tenants made the reform failed in some areas.
  4. Cooperative farming and consolidation of land holdings:
    • These reforms brought more land under farming, enhanced economies of scale and stable incomes to all those involved.
    • There are also issues like lack of credit, transfer of infertile land for fertile land and free-riders.

It can said that land reforms with strict implementation, political will and clear provisions are successful else loopholes are exploited by big landlords to continue the colonial era situation of exploitation.

Since Independence Land reforms have been a prime agenda for our policy makers. Initiatives such as

  1. Abolition of Intermediaries
  2. Tenency reforms
  3. Land ceilings and consolidation of fragmanted lands have been taken to reorganise the agriculture sector.

By the beginning of 1970’s when food insecurity was threatening the nation, new scientific innovation (HYV rice) and technology was adopted which brought in the first Green Revolution alongwith Various major Irrigation projects were undertaken.

Later we observe great significance was given to organic farming, Cooperative farming which can address problems faced by small landholders.

ICAR the apex autonomous body has played an important role in promoting agriculture research and new technology to enhance productivity..The LPG reforms has seen a increasing demand for food processing industry which has created high demand for various agri products by private parties thus contract farming has come into play in various parts of the country.

The advent of ITC has caused a great improvement in Indian agri sector.

  1. Digitization of Land records.
  2. Empowerment and educating of rural farmers with scientific methods of agri.
  3. E-choupal, E-Nam – Online platform to sell agri products with profitable value.

Thereby with modernization of agricultural activities the nature of land reforms must be coherent. land reforms must be pro agriculture and pro farmer. With an ambitious plan to double the farmers income by 2022 adequate land must be made available for irrigation and cultivation purpose. Besides in the age of Rapid Urbanization and Industrialization Govt must make Holistic approach to protect agri land and interests of the farming community

Technological advancement in field of information dissemination, micro-irrigation, marketing, and storage & transportation etc have provided a unique opportunity to make, otherwise averse, farming an attractive employment esp for rural youth. Land reform change is required for following reasons :

  • Mechanization of farming by utilizing latest technological tools like tractors, thrashers etc. is not viable for small and declining land size.
  • Also, deploying high cost & water efficient micro-irrigation technology is not feasible for small farms.
  • Technology has made price discovery platforms like like e-NAM & forward marketing(Negotiating Warehouse Receipts) and storage of produce easier . But land required for these will require easier land acquisition process.
  • Boom in FinTech companies – land reforms is expected to make lending to farmers easier by providing land records and land use history. Payment banks in future will also be eligible to lend.

The Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme utilizes technology to fasten the land recording. However, NITI ayog’s Model land lease law is yet to be adopted by states.

Impediments (analysis):

  • Land reform is one hurdle. The infrastructural constraints such as poor rural connectivity, erratic electricity & fertilizer supply along with uncertain crops pricing policy are of equal concerns.
  • Steps to bridge the rural-urban digital divide must also be taken e.g. utilizing the USOF for faster implementation of Bharat Net Project .
  • The language barrier to access technology must also be adequately addressed.

Thus, the window provided by technological advancement will not benefit farmers unless land reforms aim to infuse them by making land consolidation/leasing a possibility. Technology is an indispensable enabler but a holistic approach is required to realize the vision of doubling farmer’s income by 2022.

The land reforms policy must be in parallel with the current agricultural technologies as this will help in channelizing the focus on issue of land acquisition in a better way:

  1. Currently the practice of satistics in calculation of productivity is focussed on acreage of cultivation but the focus should be brought on productivity per unit area, this will lead to bifurcation of productive and non productive land , which can be used for purpose of industries.
  2. It has been seen that the compensation given on land aquisition often coflicts the actual prices leading to litigation and distress , instead companies should invest in helping the farmland aquiring modernisation of the farmlands of the surrounding area like drip irrigation , tractors , borewell etc.

Bringing modernisation to the farmlands as a shared responsibility by the government and the corporate will not only lead to smooth transfer of farm land for non agro purposes but also increase productivity of farmers but also bring a balance in sustaining the prime source of their income which is through their lands.

Couldn’t write more , plz review baba ji

Technology has touched the agricultural practice in India. It has brought manyfold advantages to this country (e.g. Green revolution). Land being its basis has to stay in tandem with technological changes for maximum benefits.

Nature of land reforms:

  • Increasing mechanisation require large plot of land but in India case it is fragmented, therefore consolidation is required
  • Biofuel (technology driven product) making a way for commercial crops like jatropha, groundnuts and others. Land segments are required where these crops can be planted without damaging environment or food security (e.g. National Land Use Policy).
  • Need a provision to assess the Soil health (like SIA) after Bt crop (brinjal) plantation or Neem coated urea use
  • Land bank; it can be assemblage of uncultivated lands (e.g. saline area, desert, bad land, coastal area), these can be leased/lent to outsiders (FDI) or entrepreneurs for planting crops like (Bt, hybrid-pattakali rice or curcus). these may be adapted to topography
  • marginal size of land don’t attract investors, hence hindrance to technology transfer

Technology can be a bane or boon depending on its uses. Increasing reliance on it to solve agricultural shortcomings (less acreage) behoves an adaptable land policy. which must be farmers and environment friendly.

History of Land Reforms in India

  1. Land reforms in communist powered states of Bengal and Kerala were most successful after independence.
  2. Bhoodan movement started by Acharya Vinoba Bhave was voluntary started in Telengana, this land could never be sold.
  3. Operation Barga 1977 proving small land plots to landless farmers in Bengal.
  4. Successful land reform in state of J&K


  1. Only 2% of total area of India was redistributed, which is nominal.
  2. Most Landlords donated the estates in name of relatives, servants hence escaping redistribution.
  3. Many cases land donated was not fertile and barren.
  4. Phenomenon of absentee Landlordism.
  5. Small landholdings are not suitable for large scale farming using capital intensive equipment.

Land reform for more equality

Land reforms is a topic of continuous debate among the policy makers. Post independence, intermediate rent collectors were abolished and land was redistributed, mostly in Kerala and West Bengal(through a land ceiling act) and through Bhoodan movement.

Land ceiling acts improved social equality as more tillers started owning land and reduced their dependance on landlords. Improvement in agricultural efficiency, though, is questionable because small farmers tend to have less capital. However, intensive farming through subsidised feritlisers and cropping throughout the year improved efficiency.

Today, the question of land reforms extends to consolidation too as land holdings became smaller and smaller through generations. Consolidation of holdings brings agricultural efficiency through economies of scale and mechanised farming. On the other hand, social equity might be compromised as it brings separation between landed and landless classes.

Hence, what is required is a combination of Land ceiling and consolidation so that both agricultural efficiency and social equity are realised. This might be achieved through cooperative farming(eg- Kolkhoz in Russia), Recent scheme called Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana which promotes organic farming in clusters of 50 acres is a progressive model.

Another aspect of land reform, Recent model contract farming law brings forth important aspects like tenancy security and formal contract agreements that even act as collateral for loans. This reforms in contract farming improves agricultural efficiency because of fixed terms of contract(security) and provides a sense of ownership of land for the tenant. Also, loans can be availed at bank rates. Social equity is ensured because there will be no scope for exploitation of tenant by landlord.

Hence, all the states need to put forth these reforms to increase efficiency and also ensure social equity.

Impact on Agricultural efficiency

  1. Productivity: Increased productivity due to consolidation of fragmented land and cooperative farming promoted
  2. Credit: Access to credit become easier due to land ownership under tenancy law
  3. Access to credit & increase in land holdings incentivize farmers to invest in new farming practices
  4. Wastelands were reclaimed and production increased resulting In food sufficiency

Impact on Social equity

  1. Land equity: Marginalised farmers got ownership over more land area and thus increase in social status
  2. Credit access and increased food production > increase in income > filed the gap of income inequality
  3. Abolition of zamindari curtailed exploitative practices such as beggar,bonded labour

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