What Planning Commission Dy. Chief says?
Lots of informal business models are working in the landowner-tenancy relationships!

Planning Commission Dy. Chief Mr.Ahluwalia suggestions on tenancy records seem very irrelevant and theoretical and even a casual remark! We need more vigorous, pragmatic working hands-on operational strategies for agriculture modernisation programmes.

Mr.Ahuluwalia, a veteran economic expert. He is supposed to be a very clever economic expert. Clever economists we have in plenty in India. See their practical achievements. They have the incumbent governments well. That is all. What directional change they have imparted to our growing inequalities, inequities?

But he presides over the affairs when Indian agriculture is declining at a record low rate! He is sitting in such a strategic official position, so he must know the real causes. But if he knows then, we guess he is not sharing with the public what is wrong with our agriculture. All we know from press reports is very patchy and we are therefore not in a position to judge his views.

In the recently convened full Commission meeting the Prime minister reviewed the continuing decline in the agriculture growth. Mr.Ahuluwalia made the point that tenants are not able to borrow for their cultivation from the banks as the banks insist on tenancy record for loan purposes. It is not a secret that after the implementation of the various land reform laws the landowners, including the small farmers have all become wiser!
Today in a typical village you can’t find out from the revenue records how much one person owns how many acres of farm land! There are so many ways in which to buy and own land in the villages today! The land ceiling laws are routinely violated! So, too the tenancy laws. There is only oral tenancy in vast majority of cases. There are so many illegalities in owning land and also renting out to tenants.

There is so much corruption in the concerned departments to day that no honest man can own farm lands in any legal or transparent manner! So, do the tenancy system.

In Kerala and W.Bengal itself there are so many land reform laws violation. So, we find there is also so much of cruel realities and ironies in owning land today. The tenants, as a class may be honorable class but individually tenants are today a mongrel lot. There are absentee tenants as absentee landowners! Tenantsho got their names record by devious means has sublet their tenancy lands to other tenants orally. This oral tenancy is the norm. Tenants do all sorts of other businesses, pawnbroking to other honourable and dishonourable things! So, where is Ahluwalia’s relevance in the debate?

The tenancy security now given where the tenants don’t pay rent under any circumstances is the root cause for the present stagnation in agri sector. All the land owners divert their funds to non-farm ventures and most agri lands are left neglected. Tenants don’t have the motive to improve land productivity.

In Pawnbroking, as we found from Mr.P.Sainath’s despatches from Maharashtra that the pawned land is sold out “properly” on registered stamp paper and pledged to the pawnbrokers who also take possession of the land on some pretext or other.

So, what is the alternative to Ahuluwalia’s irrelevant suggestion?
The time has come for a review of the entire land reform laws if we want more FDI and more private investments in agriculture and agroindustries and in agro diversifications to come through.

Ceiling laws have to be relaxed for specified new projects, FDI, agribusiness ventures with employment tied up, new agro/other technologies to improve productivity etc. Case by case investment proposals for relaxation can be given. But relaxation is in place. As proved in the W.Bengal Chief Minister’s policy to bring in FDI for large townships, food and biotech parks etc. As for tenancy reforms, there is a need to encourage to give compensation for evicting the rogue tenants. As in urban areas there is a mafia culture to evict the unruly tenants for a hefty fee. Politicians play an active role in this!As for the argument that nasality menace is owing to lack of land is only one side to the story. We can also point out that there are no developments in many of the dry land areas. Backwardness of regions is prone to this menace.

With all these current realities positive developments take place in agriculture.One, corruption pays to get things done!

– V.ISVARMURTI

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