Agrarian Reform is very significant for the economy of any country because more than half of the population is employed in the agricultural sector. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood especially for the developing countries. Reforms are important because they protect the rights of the farmers. Definition of Agrarian Reform
Agrarian Reform could be defined as the rectification of the whole system of agriculture. It is normally done by the government where they redistribute the agricultural land among the farmers of the country. The agrarian reform is concerned with the relation between production and distribution of land among the farmers. It also concerns the processing of the raw materials that are produced by farming the land from the respective industries. There can be different types of agrarian reform measures like credit measures, integration of land and training of the farmers. The measures also focus on securing the rights of the farmers, the rights of the peasants working on leased land and aiding them in availing loans from private sectors. The government must also offer support services to the farmers which complement the other measures. They also run campaigns to increase the camaraderie level between the farmers. HISTORY OF AGRARIAN REFORMS
History of agrarian reform dates back to the era of the Romans and Greeks. During this period, there was a lot of unrest between the landless as well as the landowners. Land reform occupied a vital place in the Gracchian agrarian laws. There are instances in history when there was wide unrest among the peasants, who demanded reforms in land. The Peasants' Revolt in 1381 and German Peasants' War in 1524 to 1526 are examples of the same. * History of agrarian reform in Russia
With the Russian Revolution in 20th century, a new dimension was added to the agrarian reform. It followed socialized agriculture. In Socialized agriculture land is collectively owned, partially by state farming but primarily by collective farming under the jurisdiction of the state Once in power, Lenin, assigned all land under state property. This was in the year 1917. Peasants took over several landed property. Voluntary collectivization promoted by Lenin failed miserably. Communist rule prevailed in the Eastern European countries after the Second World War. When Communist rule fell in Eastern part of Europe during the period 1989 to 1990 and after Soviet Union disintegrated in the year 1991, efforts were being made to privatize the agricultural sector.
History of agrarian reform in India
In the densely populated Indian subcontinent, there has been marked unrest among the laborers for several reasons pertaining to land. The primary reasons for the turmoil were: * Security of tenure: This is a term used to denote a kind of legal assurance given to an individual that he would not be removed from office unless there are dire reasons to do so. If security of tenure is not granted to the individual, it would constantly trouble him and make him feel insecure about holding his land. * Redistribution of land among the landless: The fear that there would be unequal distribution of land troubled the agricultural workers. * Rents, which were tyrannical : There were landlords who demanded rent from the tenants or the peasants without considering their financial status. Majority of the landlords exercised their monopoly and dominated the poor agricultural workers. * Interests charged by the Usury: Usury is the financial assistance extended to the peasants in matters related to agriculture. For instance, if an agricultural worker wishes to buy an agricultural equipment or machinery or intends to improve land by application of fertilizers, pesticides or acquires a land, he can do so by borrowing money. There was unrest among the poor farmers because the more powerful creditors asked for abnormal rates of interest. An end to this practice was the need of the hour. History of agrarian reform in South Africa
There was a lot of racial discrimination pertaining to land reform policies in South Africa. This discrimination was more pronounced in places like Namibia, Zimbabwe. A general trend observed in South Africa was that even though agrarian reform gained ground pretty late, that did not decrease the agricultural output. But it definitely led to frustration and agony on the part of agricultural workers. OBJECTIVE OF AGRARIAN REFORMS
There are many objectives of agrarian reform. Majority of the laws are formulated during periods of unrest. As a result, the reforms are not formulated with much precision. The objectives of the agrarian reform are flexible due to lack of precision. The objectives of agrarian reform are discussed below.
Political: The main objective was to put an end to conflicts pertaining to land ownership. Aim to bring about harmony between the rural people and the urban resident is also called for. Therefore, bringing stability in the political set up of the country is also regarded as one of the objectives of agrarian reform. The political set up of the country plays an important role. If there is political unrest, leaders would usually concentrate on resolving the crisis, instead of dealing with land conflicts. Social: The socio agrarian reforms include bringing about equality in terms of opportunities, income as well as wealth. This leads to a dispute between the people who own land and those who do not possess land. The dispute cannot be avoided unless some steps are taken for the betterment of the rural population. Economic: The economic objectives can be listed below:
* Enhancing agricultural production
* Enhancing agricultural productivity
* Bettering capital formation
* Providing employment to more agricultural workers
* Enhancing demand for raw materials and services
* Improving balance of payments by facilitating export activities * Trying to increase production at home so that imports do not have to be relied upon. * Enhancing cooperation as well as regulation between agricultural sector and the non agricultural sector. The aims and objectives have become more and more complex with every passing day. In earlier times, more stress was laid on equality among the people. However, things have changed a lot these days. The focus has shifted to collectivization and rights to use land. If one seeks economic objectives, the production ought to be encouraged. In the event, there is tendency of acquiring bigger farming units. A high income level indicates that a certain development level has been achieved already. AGRARIAN REFORMS IN INDIA
Agrarian Reform in India had been adopted to reallocate the agricultural resources among all the people directly connected with agriculture. After independence, the Government of India started the process of building equity in rural population and improvement of the employment rate and productivity. So for this reason the Government had started agrarian reform. Reasons Behind Agrarian reform:
* Since India had been under several rulers for a long time, i.e right from the beginning of the middle age, that's why it's rural economic policies kept changing. The main focus of those policies was to earn more money by exploiting the poor farmers. * In the British period the scenario had not changed much. The British Government introduced the "Zamindari" system where the the authority of land had been captured by some big and rich landowners called Zamindar. Moreover they created an intermediate class to collect tax easily. * This class had no direct relationship with agriculture or land. Those Zamindars could acquire land from the British Government almost free of cost. So the economic security of the poor peasants lost completely. After independence, the Government's main focus was to remove those intermediate classes and secure a proper land management system. Since India is a large country, the redistribution process was a big challenge for the Government. Objectives:
According to agrarian reform land was declared as a property of State Government. So the agrarian reforms varied from state to state. But the main objectives of agrarian reform in India were: * Setting proper land management,
* Abolition of Intermediaries
* Preventing fragmentation of lands,
* Tenancy reform.
The land policies of different states faced several controversies . In some state the reform measures were biased in favour of th big land owners who could wield their political influence. However, agrarian reform in India had set a healthy socio-economic structure in the rural areas The exploitation of British colonialism was borne by the Indian peasants adversely. However the peasants fought against the Britishers at every single step. There was a change in the resistance behavior of the peasant’s cause they started fighting for their demand and the unjust done to them. This behavior came more in action after 1858. One of the most popular events of peasant revolt was the indigo cultivation in Bengal in 1859-60 where the peasants were forced to cultivate indigo and sell them at cheaper rates to the Britishers. The cultivation of indigo would make their lands infertile and bare forever. If the peasants refused to cultivate indigo they would be beaten ruthlessly and brutally so as to compel them to cultivate indigo. The peasants thus got frustrated and burst out into anger and refrained from cultivating indigo. The intelligentsia of Bengal rose and organized a powerful campaign for the support of peasants. The government was compelled to appoint a commission for investigation and mitigation of the system. But still the battle could not be solved and the oppression of Britishers and resistance of peasants continued. The indigo peasants of Bihar revolted in large scale in Darbhanga and Champaran in 1866-68. Once again unrest broke out amidst peasants in 1870’s in East Bengal. The powerful and cunning zamindars freely took recourse to ejection, harassment, illegal seizure of property including crops and large scale use of force to increase rents and to prevent the peasants from gaining occupancy rights. The Bengal peasants also had a long tradition of resistance stretching back to 1782. From 1872 to 1876 the peasants came together unitedly in the form of No-rent union and fought against the zamindars and their agents. It was stopped only when the government suppressed the peasant’s acts of violence. This created a situation of uneasiness and unrest among the peasants and it ended when the government promised to take some action on the zamindari oppression. But this time again large sections of new intelligentsia gave support to the peasant’s effort. A major agrarian unrest took place in Poona and Ahmednagar- districts of Maharashtra in 1875. In Maharashtra the British government had directly settled the revenue with the peasants. At the same time it increased the rates of revenue so high that it was impossible to pay the revenue and they had no option left other than borrowing the money from moneylenders who charged high interest rates. More and more land got mortgaged and sold out to the moneylenders who tried their best to achieve the land at legal and illegal term. Peasant patient got exhausted by the end of 1875 and huge agrarian riots took place. The whole military force at Poona had to take field against them to suppress them. Once again the modern intelligentsia of Maharashtra supported the peasant’s demands. Peasant also broke out in several other parts of country such as Assam and North Kerala. The situation provoked in Assam because of high land revenue assessment. The peasants refused to pay enhanced revenue demands to the landlords and fought against the land revenue collectors to seize their lands. The situation worsened and police had to mobilize their network to suppress the peasants. Many peasants were killed brutally. These movements or riots of peasants at any time did not create any threat to British rule but proved that the Indian peasants’ reactions were instant and spontaneous to every situation. The illiterate and ignorant people performed acts of appreciation against the menace of increasing British colonialism. But their acts were doomed to failure. However, the popular movements and rebellions of 19th century reveal the immense sources of resistance to imperialism that lay dormant among the Indian people.