LAND POLICIES FOR INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT: A REFORM AGENDA FOR INDIA’S MOST POPULOUS STATE

Ajit Kumar Singh, Santosh Mehrotra

Abstract


The paper has demonstrated that agriculture in UP has been in deep crisis for long. Slow growth rates of agricultural output, increasing instability, stagnating productivity, declining profit margins, high incidence of poverty among marginal and small farmers are some of the symptoms of this crisis. The size of holding is gradually declining and an overwhelming majority of holdings have become marginal and economically non-viable. Due to the small land base and lack of local employment opportunities cultivators are moving out of agriculture and migrating in large numbers outside. The paper suggests an agenda of land reforms for Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, where one-fifth of the farm population of the country lives. The land policies should serve the objectives of increasing access to land to the poor and accelerating agricultural growth. The situation calls for a break from the old mindset which aimed at banning tenancy and redistributing land through ceiling legislation. These policies failed to attain their objectives and proved to be against the interest of the landless and marginal farmers by restricting their access to land. What is called for is a fresh approach to land policies which are in consonance with the present times. The paper makes a strong plea for legalizing leasing of land, which is prohibited in the state, with appropriate safeguards for the landless and the marginal farmers. The state should also facilitate the purchase of land by the poor individually and in groups to take up group farming. Special attention needs to be paid to the vulnerable groups like women and forest dwellers. A successful program of land policies will depend upon modernization and digitization of land records and increasing access of the poor to capital to purchase land and invest in agriculture. While particularly focused on the state of UP the arguments put forward in the paper are relevant for other states as well.


Keywords


Agrarian crisis; Land Reforms in India; Land Leasing; Tenancy; Women and Land Rights; Uttar Pradesh; Land Market; Land Record

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