Land Reform

Land Reform


Land reform generally reflects public policy of land redistribution for the benefit of the landless tillers, the tenants and the small farmers. It aims at the abolition of intermediaries and bringing the actual cultivator in direct contact with the state, regulation of rent, security of tenure for tenants and conferment of ownership on them.  It also focuses on land ceiling and land holdings, agrarian reorganization including consolidation of holdings and preventing of sub-division and fragmentation and organization of cooperative farms. It is thus considered one of the key issues in economic development in agricultural societies.

India is country of small farmer and as such land reforms assume greater importance, not only in the context of social justice and equitable distribution, but also from the point of view of production and agricultural trade.

During the freedom struggle it was realized by the political leader that the goal of achieving freedom is possible only after support of common man. The attention was given by them on the issues of the poverty of the people and extreme exploitation of the peasantry by zamindars and moneylenders it became an important plank of the programme of the Indian National Congress. A major programme of agrarian reform was presented in 1936. Jawaharlal Nehru In his presidential address at Faizpur Session of the Congress, asked for “the removal of intermediaries between the cultivator and state”. Also around the same time, pressure was being created by the increasing number of peasant struggles in different parts of the country. The pressure created by the long drawn struggles compelled the British Government to work out plans for the redressal of the complaints of peasants.


Shortly after independence ample emphasis was put on land reforms as part of the national policy to transform iniquitous agrarian structure. The strategy adopted was to introduce land reforms through land legislation. It was broadly indicated by the government of India and enacted by the state legislatures:


The primary objectives of land reforms were:


(a) To remove motivational and other impediments which arise from the agrarian structure inherited from the past, and


(b) to eliminate all elements of exploitation and social injustice within the agrarian system so as to ensure equality of status and opportunity to all sections of the population.


It is obvious from these objectives that land reforms were introduced with a view to modernize agriculture and reduce inequalities in the agrarian economy. These objectives were converted into the following programme of action:


(a)        the abolition of all forms of intermediaries between the state and the tiller of the soil,


(b)        conferment of ownership rights on the cultivating tenants in the land held under their possession,


(c)        imposition of ceiling on agricultural land holdings,


(d)        consolidation of holdings with a view to making easier the application of modern techniques of agriculture, and;

(e)        Rationalization of the record of rights in land.



In the year 1947 the president of the Indian National Congress Dr. Rajendra Prasad convened a meeting of the revenue ministers of the states to discuss question of land reforms. The revenue minister’s conference unanimously requested Dr. Rajendra Prasad to appoint a committee to study the subject and to make necessary recommendations. Accordingly committee was formed under the chairmanship of C. Kumarappa. Based on the recommendation made by Kumarappa committee the Congress Ministry, in Bombay province enacted land reforms legislations, some of them are,


1.       Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 ,


2.       The Bombay Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holding Act, 1947,


3.       The Maharashtra Agricultural  Lands (Ceiling On Holdings) Act, 1961,


4.       The Bombay Moneylenders Licensing Act, 1946,


5.       The Bombay Agricultural Relief Act, 1947