Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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-Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
[Organiser, 29 January, 1962]

Patties and the FARMER: Agriculture continues to be Neglected by Government

Agriculture is the basis of all economic development. In India it is the main source of livelihood for more than seventy two percent of the population and agricultural income still accounts for about half our national income. It is, therefore, obvious that agriculture should receive our first and main attention.

However political thinkers and economic planners have not yet given to it the importance necessary for an orderly development of our economy. They have been more concerned with problems of industrialisation in India. They think that lack of industry is at the root of India’s poverty and to some extent they are correct.

But they forget that industries cannot flourish without agricultural development. Agriculture does not only provide food to the growing population but has also to produce raw materials to feed the industry. An affluent agriculturist class alone can provide the widest market for the products of industries. If this aspect is neglected the industries might either languish for want of raw material or be forced to close down for lack of demand.

The second Plan failed miserably in this respect. It laid all the emphasis on industrial development and there too on heavy industries. The Third Plan promises to rectify this imbalance, but the plan outlays betray an utter lack of realisation on this account. The result may be that we continue to industrialise our selves without developing agriculture.

Two Problems of Agriculture

The problems of agriculture can be divided into two categories. One relates to the right of the peasantry or the tiller on the land and the other relates to the needs of the farmer in respect of actual farming operations. The two are connected with each other. However, for the last fifteen years different political parties have been busy more with the question of land reforms than with land management. Bringing about land-reforms without equipping the tiller with the necessary means of putting his farm-land to the best economic use will defeat their purpose. Increased agricultural production being the ultimate objective, all land reforms should be conceived with that end in view. Other social and political parties have been busy more with the question of land reforms than with land management. Bringing about land-reforms without equipping the tiller with the necessary means of putting his farm-land to the best economic use will defect their purpose. Increased agricultural production being the ultimate objective, all land reforms should be conceived with that end in view. Other social and political objectives, howsoever desirable, shouldn’t be brought in if they subvert the achievement of this primary aim.

It is recognised by one and all that maximisation of agricultural production in India is possible only through intensive farming. Intensive farming requires personal attention by the tiller as also investment in developing the land. That in not possible without security of tenancy. It has therefore, been the aim of all land legislation to grant ownership right to the tiller.

In Zamindari and Jagirdari areas the intermediaries have been abolished and the land nationalised. The State, through tenancy acts, has transferred to the tenant’s permanent and inheritable rights of tenancy.

Those Hurt by Land Reforms

However in states where Ryothwari system was in vogue the problem still continues. Legally the ryot is the owner of the land. But in most cases the owner is not the tiller. The owner has become an absentee landlord. There has developed a class of rent-receivers. The rent too is at places as high as one-half of the produce. Attempts have been made to fix a fair rent and in some areas they have borne some fruits. But still there are states where nothing has been done in this direction.

Reforms in this respect affect those classes which have migrated to the cities and continue to supplement their income from these sources. This class grudges these reforms. The main brunt of these economic policies having mainly fallen on this class, it has been reduced to a state where it is finding difficult to make two ends meet. Rising prices and declining incomes have reduced that middle class to position where his white clothes and education alone serve as a camouflage to hide its abject poverty.

All this, to some people, is sufficient justification for rejecting or postponing reforms leading to the grant of ownership right to the actual tiller. They however, forget that by doing so they are depriving themselves of an economic order which would ultimately restore them to their better state in society. The Swatantra Party is trying to exploit the sentiments of this class and hopes to cash on love of the peasant for the land, forgetting that the peasant they represent had already left the land and has no love for it except in its rent.

Swatantra Attitude

The Swatantra Party considers land reforms as expropriatory. It takes its stand on the fact that land in some states had been considered as private property and could be transferred. Without going into the philosophical discussion about private property it has to be admitted that the Society or the State after giving due compensation has the right to alter the individual’s rights in property. In the interest of the country’s economic development this amendment has become necessary. The Swatantra Party perhaps would not openly challenge this right, but definitely it stands for it when the party manifesto promises that ‘the party will respect the property rights of the peasants in their holdings, big or small and thereby remove uncertainties and provide incentives.’ Thus the swatantra wants that there should be no ceilings on land holdings and also that the tiller should not be granted ownership rights on the land he tills congress.

All other parties however differ from the Swatantra in this respect. They all stand for ceilings on land holdings and for making the farmer owner of his lands. The Congress Governments have already passed legislation imposing ceilings on land. But there are a number of defects in these laws. It looks full ten years for the Congress to enact them. It may take a decade to implement them. The Congress manifesto only promises that these ‘must be given effect to as soon as possible in all the States.’ They do not propose to fix any date-line. Naturally it means continuance of the State of uncertainty in agriculture and thus postponing its development.


The PSP manifesto describes this state of affairs thus–
‘Land reforms riddled with loopholes have brought little justice to the villages. Ambiguous in enactment, they have been expensively evasive in implementations.’
The PSP, therefore, proposes to hand over to the District councils ‘land reforms to be implemented as a time-bound programme.’


The Communist Party is also emphatic in this respect. It says–
‘All land transfers made to recent years must be re-examined and fictitious transfers declared null and void. All loopholes in the existing land legislations, particularly in regard to ceilings must be forthwith removed and ceilings to eliminate the concentration of landholdings and for benefiting the peasants must be introduced. Land must be distributed to the landless labourer and the poor peasant.’


The Jana Sangh has proposed an extensive and realistic programme of land reforms. Its programme explodes the propaganda of those who, like Gobbles have been accusing it of reviving medieval feudalism. Without indulging in slogan-mongering the Jana Sangh manifesto defines the party’s land policy thus–
‘The Jana Sangh will make the farmer master of his land. After removing all lacunas, the existing laws will be effectively implemented.’

‘The Bharatiya Jana Sangh will stop ejectments and restore to the tenant all lands from which he had been illegally or improperly ejected.’

The Jana Sangh however grants the right of leasing the lands to certain categories especially those who own less than the economic holding. The manifesto prescribes–
‘The right of leasing the land will be granted to owners of land upto five acres and to windows, orphans, disabled persons, military personnel and charitable trusts and institution.’

This is an important exception and has been inserted in the manifesto, as a concession to the realities of the situation. The small land-owner who has let out his lands cannot revert to the land as it can hardly maintain him. If he is prohibited from leasing out his land, he resumes land for personal cultivation but does not pay attention to it. It deprives the lease-holder and reduces his holding to uneconomic level. The number of uneconomic holdings has increased after the new legislation. It will be therefore useful that smaller land-owners of the above description are excluded from the purview of the prohibitory provisions regarding sub-letting. Other exceptions need no explanation.

But in some of the Southern States charitable Institutions and temples have also been affected by these land reforms. Obviously gods are not expected to resume lands for cultivations. Their lands must be cultivated by some one on their behalf. It would be better that is done by the tenants rather than by the temple-priest or the manager of the charitable institution.

To Avoid Mechanisation, Ceilings are necessary

The Jana Sangh also stands for ceilings. If subletting is prohibited, ceilings are necessary, unless we desire mechanised farms. The Swatantra Party wants farming to be Americanised. But they forget that in India what we need is maximum production per unit of land and not maximum production per labourer or per unit of capital utilised. Thus mechanisation is not suited to our agronomy. The farms must be of a manageable size and for that some ceiling has got to be imposed.

However, in the process of imposing ceilings we should not disregard social and political objectives and need not create a sense of discrimination in the rural areas. Those who justify ceilings as a measure of reducing inequalities cannot justify their differential treatment of rural and urban incomes. Ends of social justice can be achieved by imposing a steep agricultural income tax. But that would mean less agricultural production.

It needs no repetition that the existing laws are defective and will take a long time to implement. The Jana Sangh manifesto therefore says–
‘Legislation fixing a ceiling on land holdings has been enacted in almost all the States. However, the laws suffer from a number of defects and their implementation is purposely delayed by the present ministries. Consequently there is uncertainty in the minds of the peasants which is thus affecting agricultural production. The Jana Sangh, after removing their defects, will implement the law within a year.’

While all other parties insist on fixing an upper limit, they have no programme of making uneconomic holdings economic. Instead, they propose co-operative depriving the peasant of his lands.

Moreover co-operative farming will lead to a fall in agricultural production. At the present we also lack managerial skill to work the scheme successfully.

The Jana Sangh and the Swatantra Party are both opposed to cooperative farming. It will ultimately mean collectivisation of land. The Congress passed a resolution for co-operative farming at the Nagpur Session. But that, they have hedged in with a number of soporifics. Now they talk of voluntary co-operative farming. But when the State takes up a programme, if fixes targets and discriminates on that basis and thus there is coercion. However the Congress manifesto says–
‘It is proposed to spread service co-operatives throughout the rural areas and wherever possible and agreed to, to have co-operative farming.’

Obviously they want the co-operative farms to be mechanised, and therefore the manifesto continues–
‘Co-operation as well as modern farming techniques and animal husbandry require training of the farmers and workers. Such training should be provided on a large scale.’

The hint is clear. The training is to be provided on a large scale only to implement the programme of co-operative farming on a large scale and that will not be voluntary.

The PSP also offers a sugar-coated pill as a remedy for uneconomic holdings. It says–
‘By providing the needed inducements and incentives the holders of dwarf holdings will be invited into co-operatives. Pooling of resources and implements will precede pooling of land.’

The Communists have not said anything co-operative farming in the election manifesto. Their support for the programme is so obvious that their silence can hardly deceive anybody.

The Jana Sangh manifesto reiterates the party’s opposition to co-operative farming. It says–
‘The Bharatiya Jana Sangh considers joint co-operative farming detrimental to democracy and unsuited to the needs of increasing production per acre of land. All those provisions that force the farmer to give up his rights in land will be repealed. Facilities provided by the Government will be given to all farmers without any discrimination.’


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Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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