Achievement Of West Bengal {Land Reforms in West Bengal} by Aneek Gupta

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Achievement Of West Bengal {Land Reforms in West Bengal}

Aneek Gupta

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Achievement Of West Bengal {Land Reforms in West Bengal} by Aneek Gupta

  1. 1. Land Reforms in West BengalLand Reforms in West Bengal Geography and demography of the stateGeography and demography of the state 1.1. Situated in the Eastern Coast of India,Situated in the Eastern Coast of India, bordering the states of Bihar and Orissabordering the states of Bihar and Orissa and the neighbouring country Bangladesh.and the neighbouring country Bangladesh. 2.2. Population density of 904 per squarePopulation density of 904 per square kilometers as compared to the nationalkilometers as compared to the national average of 324.average of 324. 3.3. In 2001, 71.97 per cent of population was inIn 2001, 71.97 per cent of population was in rural areas.rural areas. 4.4. In 1999-2000, 65.9 per cent of householdIn 1999-2000, 65.9 per cent of household budget was spent on rice consumption.budget was spent on rice consumption.
  2. 2. 5. In 1999-2000, 90.62 per cent of total area5. In 1999-2000, 90.62 per cent of total area for cultivation of food grains was under rice.for cultivation of food grains was under rice. 6. Area under food grains in 1999-2000 was6. Area under food grains in 1999-2000 was 4.1 times the area under non food grains4.1 times the area under non food grains (cash crops and vegetables)(cash crops and vegetables) 7. In 1999-2000, 92.6 per cent of total food7. In 1999-2000, 92.6 per cent of total food grains production was in the form of rice.grains production was in the form of rice. 8. In 2000, from administrative point of view8. In 2000, from administrative point of view West Bengal had 17 districts divided intoWest Bengal had 17 districts divided into 341 development blocks and 3248 cluster of341 development blocks and 3248 cluster of villages having 40,911 villages (calledvillages having 40,911 villages (called Mouzas).Mouzas).
  3. 3. History of LandHistory of Land TenureTenure  West Bengal had a land tenure system knownWest Bengal had a land tenure system known asas Permanent SettlementPermanent Settlement which promotedwhich promoted absentee landlords calledabsentee landlords called ZamindarsZamindars  The revenue collection pressure created aThe revenue collection pressure created a layer of intermediarieslayer of intermediaries  The lowest strata of actual cultivators wereThe lowest strata of actual cultivators were the sharecroppers, known mainly asthe sharecroppers, known mainly as BargadarsBargadars  After Independence in 1947, Zamindars wereAfter Independence in 1947, Zamindars were replaced by new landlords calledreplaced by new landlords called JotedarsJotedars
  4. 4.  The Jotedars, mainly rentiers from theThe Jotedars, mainly rentiers from the erstwhile zamindars, again turned out toerstwhile zamindars, again turned out to be not the actual cultivators in general andbe not the actual cultivators in general and many of them were also absentees.many of them were also absentees.  The rights of the Bargadars, in spite ofThe rights of the Bargadars, in spite of various land reforms measures, remainedvarious land reforms measures, remained insecure till the late seventies. Most ofinsecure till the late seventies. Most of them were unrecorded, having nothem were unrecorded, having no hereditary rights of cultivation. The sharehereditary rights of cultivation. The share of crop violated legal stipulations moreof crop violated legal stipulations more than often. Threat of eviction always keptthan often. Threat of eviction always kept the sharecroppers on the defensive.the sharecroppers on the defensive.
  5. 5. Leadership, Commitment andLeadership, Commitment and Politics of ChangePolitics of Change  The major movement of Sharecroppers toThe major movement of Sharecroppers to ensure 2/3rds share of crop was backed byensure 2/3rds share of crop was backed by the communists dominated Peasantsthe communists dominated Peasants organizationorganization All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)  The Congress party, which had socialistThe Congress party, which had socialist leanings but basically a centre-left party,leanings but basically a centre-left party, ruled since independence and had theruled since independence and had the backing of the jotedarsbacking of the jotedars  The First non-congress communistsThe First non-congress communists dominated government was installed in 1967dominated government was installed in 1967
  6. 6.  For the first time, sharecroppers showed someFor the first time, sharecroppers showed some militancy in the rural areasmilitancy in the rural areas  The present Communist party of India (Marxist)The present Communist party of India (Marxist) led left front came to power in 1977 generalled left front came to power in 1977 general electionelection  In 1977, an amendment to land reforms actIn 1977, an amendment to land reforms act made cultivation in absentia an exclusionarymade cultivation in absentia an exclusionary clause for eviction of sharecroppers.clause for eviction of sharecroppers. Sharecroppers were provided heritable rightsSharecroppers were provided heritable rights and the place of crop share was shifted toand the place of crop share was shifted to sharecroppers homestead plot.sharecroppers homestead plot.  In 1978, Registration of names ofIn 1978, Registration of names of sharecroppers started in an unprecedentedsharecroppers started in an unprecedented scale under the name “Operation Barga” alongscale under the name “Operation Barga” along with redistribution of ceiling-surplus land.with redistribution of ceiling-surplus land.
  7. 7. Who are the major stakeholders in the LandWho are the major stakeholders in the Land Reform process?Reform process?  Sharecroppers were the direct beneficiary. BySharecroppers were the direct beneficiary. By implication the poorer sections of peasantry,implication the poorer sections of peasantry, namely, marginal and small farmers, benefitednamely, marginal and small farmers, benefited the mostthe most  Agricultural Labourers, the other major section ofAgricultural Labourers, the other major section of the rural poor, were the other beneficiary. Theythe rural poor, were the other beneficiary. They benefited directly from redistribution ofbenefited directly from redistribution of confiscated land and indirectly from any wageconfiscated land and indirectly from any wage rate rise.rate rise.  The major section to lose was the absenteeThe major section to lose was the absentee landlordslandlords
  8. 8. The major issue in the political economy ofThe major issue in the political economy of reform is whether the target group wasreform is whether the target group was correctly chosen?correctly chosen?  Data just before independence in 1945, didData just before independence in 1945, did show that more than 1/3show that more than 1/3rdrd of operational areaof operational area was under sharecropping.was under sharecropping.  Data also show that percentage of families withData also show that percentage of families with primary occupation as agricultural labourers hadprimary occupation as agricultural labourers had a continuous decline during the 15 years prior toa continuous decline during the 15 years prior to independence in 1945.independence in 1945.  Thus, the decision to concentrate onThus, the decision to concentrate on sharecroppers during post-independence yearssharecroppers during post-independence years was politically correctwas politically correct
  9. 9. Number of Bargadars RegisteredNumber of Bargadars Registered YearYear Cumulative Nos. RegisteredCumulative Nos. Registered (Cumulative % to total)(Cumulative % to total) Up to 1978Up to 1978 (Pre OB)(Pre OB) 0.25 Million (11%)0.25 Million (11%) 19811981 1.20 Million (52%)1.20 Million (52%) 19841984 1.31 Million (57%)1.31 Million (57%) 19911991 1.43 Million (62%)1.43 Million (62%) 19951995 1.47 Million (64%)1.47 Million (64%)
  10. 10. Share of West Bengal in implementation ofShare of West Bengal in implementation of distribution of ceiling surplus land amongdistribution of ceiling surplus land among all major rice producing states in India asall major rice producing states in India as in March, 2001in March, 2001 StatesStates Per cent to National TotalPer cent to National Total West Bengal 47.14West Bengal 47.14 Andhra Pradesh 9.83Andhra Pradesh 9.83 Uttar Pradesh 5.40Uttar Pradesh 5.40 Tamil Nadu 2.62Tamil Nadu 2.62
  11. 11. Institutional Innovations andInstitutional Innovations and ImplementationImplementation 1. Bringing Bureaucracy close to the Villages1. Bringing Bureaucracy close to the Villages  Replacement of traditional Revenue CourtReplacement of traditional Revenue Court approach to register names ofapproach to register names of sharecroppers by the Rural Camp Methodsharecroppers by the Rural Camp Method  Operation Barga was carried out in sixOperation Barga was carried out in six stages-stages- a. Identification of villages with the help ofa. Identification of villages with the help of settlement records and peasantssettlement records and peasants organisationsorganisations b. Squads of Officers from Land Settlementb. Squads of Officers from Land Settlement and Land Management Branch formedand Land Management Branch formed
  12. 12. c. Dates of evening camps were settledc. Dates of evening camps were settled d. Government Officials explained thed. Government Officials explained the benefits of registration of namesbenefits of registration of names e. Next day was reserved for claime. Next day was reserved for claim verificationverification f. Government officers recorded names off. Government officers recorded names of the sharecroppers and gave themthe sharecroppers and gave them certificates. They were entered into thecertificates. They were entered into the village records later.village records later. Thus, essentially, quasi property rights wereThus, essentially, quasi property rights were Bestowed upon registered sharecroppersBestowed upon registered sharecroppers
  13. 13. 2.2. Delegation of financial and planningDelegation of financial and planning activities to Local Elected Governmentactivities to Local Elected Government  Local elected government have three tiers,Local elected government have three tiers, known as ‘Panchayats’known as ‘Panchayats’  Top tier worked at the district level calledTop tier worked at the district level called Zilla ParishadsZilla Parishads  The next tier worked at the block levelThe next tier worked at the block level calledcalled Panchayat SamitisPanchayat Samitis  The lowest tier worked at the grassrootsThe lowest tier worked at the grassroots level of a cluster of small number oflevel of a cluster of small number of villages calledvillages called Gram Panchayats (GPs)Gram Panchayats (GPs)
  14. 14. Quantifiable Tasks of PanchayatsQuantifiable Tasks of Panchayats  To carry out central government fundedTo carry out central government funded schemes like Food for Work (aimed at creatingschemes like Food for Work (aimed at creating off season jobs) or creation of non-farm ruraloff season jobs) or creation of non-farm rural assets. The major success was in the creation ofassets. The major success was in the creation of unsurfaced rural roads and clearing of pondsunsurfaced rural roads and clearing of ponds and tanks.and tanks.  Distribution of Minikits, a package of seeds,Distribution of Minikits, a package of seeds, fertiliser and pesticidefertiliser and pesticide  Maintenance of tube wells for irrigation throughMaintenance of tube wells for irrigation through the creation of beneficiaries committeesthe creation of beneficiaries committees Non-quantifiable Tasks of PanchayatsNon-quantifiable Tasks of Panchayats  Role of conflict resolution in case of disputesRole of conflict resolution in case of disputes regarding land, water and wages, as well asregarding land, water and wages, as well as other social problems.other social problems.
  15. 15. Grass roots DemocracyGrass roots Democracy  From 1985 onwards, the panchayats enjoyedFrom 1985 onwards, the panchayats enjoyed financial devolution and planning responsibilities.financial devolution and planning responsibilities.  Operation Barga created more balance of powerOperation Barga created more balance of power in the village democracyin the village democracy  All members of an electoral constituency areAll members of an electoral constituency are supposed to meet twice every year insupposed to meet twice every year in GramGram SansadsSansads to discuss village level plans.to discuss village level plans.  In 2000In 2000, there were 3000, there were 3000 Gram SansadsGram Sansads ofof which almost 90 per cent held meetings.which almost 90 per cent held meetings.  Percentage of electorates attending meeting hadPercentage of electorates attending meeting had shown a downward trend from 30 percent inshown a downward trend from 30 percent in 1996 to 5 percent in 2000.1996 to 5 percent in 2000.
  16. 16. Impact of Land ReformsImpact of Land Reforms  Impact on PovertyImpact on Poverty 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 72-73 87-88 93-94 99-00 West Bengal I ndia
  17. 17. Rates of Growth of Rice productionRates of Growth of Rice production 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 51-67 78-95 West Bengal I ndia
  18. 18. Distribution of Operational HoldingsDistribution of Operational Holdings YearYear West BengalWest Bengal IndiaIndia Below 2Below 2 hectareshectares Below 2Below 2 hectareshectares NumberNumber 91.4%91.4% 78.2%78.2% AreaArea 66.46%66.46% 32.4%32.4%
  19. 19. Regression Results for Causality for cultivatorsRegression Results for Causality for cultivators Having operational land below 2 hectaresHaving operational land below 2 hectares 1) Log(yield) = -0.144 + 0.289** log(roads) +1) Log(yield) = -0.144 + 0.289** log(roads) + 0.359* log(labour) + 0.370*inter 25,0.359* log(labour) + 0.370*inter 25, Adjusted RAdjusted R22 = 0.310= 0.310 2) Log(yield) = 0.142 + 0.313** log(roads) +2) Log(yield) = 0.142 + 0.313** log(roads) + 0.292** log(labour) + 0.370***inter 20,0.292** log(labour) + 0.370***inter 20, Adjusted RAdjusted R22 = 0.248= 0.248 NoteNote: *, **, and *** refer to significant at 1, 5 and: *, **, and *** refer to significant at 1, 5 and 10 per cent levels respectively10 per cent levels respectively
  20. 20. Learning and ExperimentationLearning and Experimentation The strengthsThe strengths  Strong Political will backed by historicalStrong Political will backed by historical support to peasant struggles of the Leftsupport to peasant struggles of the Left partiesparties  Choice of the right target group, namely smallChoice of the right target group, namely small scale sharecropping tenants and landlessscale sharecropping tenants and landless agricultural labourersagricultural labourers  Quasi property rights bestowed on theQuasi property rights bestowed on the sharecroppers increasing their incentivessharecroppers increasing their incentives  Innovative implementation processInnovative implementation process
  21. 21.  Better balance of rural powerBetter balance of rural power  Active involvement of local level electedActive involvement of local level elected governments in developmental works, especiallygovernments in developmental works, especially construction of roads and excavation of canalsconstruction of roads and excavation of canals and Tanksand Tanks  Conflict resolution by the local level electedConflict resolution by the local level elected representativesrepresentatives The weaknessesThe weaknesses  Land dispossession especially of theLand dispossession especially of the redistributed landholdersredistributed landholders  Insignificant rise of agricultural real wagesInsignificant rise of agricultural real wages
  22. 22.  The number of cultivators as a proportion ofThe number of cultivators as a proportion of agricultural workers is going downagricultural workers is going down  Poor Attendance in the village level meetings ofPoor Attendance in the village level meetings of the panchayatsthe panchayats  Questions regarding fairness in electoralQuestions regarding fairness in electoral processprocess  Indifferent attitude towards financial devolutionsIndifferent attitude towards financial devolutions and delegation of planning responsibilities toand delegation of planning responsibilities to panchayats by the state governmentpanchayats by the state government Future DirectionsFuture Directions To sustain fruits of land reform, diversification ofTo sustain fruits of land reform, diversification of production base and increase in non-farm activitiesproduction base and increase in non-farm activities are a must. Along with that, serious thought to beare a must. Along with that, serious thought to be

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