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Approach:

  1. Brief introduction about land and tenancy laws.
  2. Mention the factors responsible for the need of tenancy law reforms in India.
  3. Identify the roadblocks in the way of reforming them.
  4. Mention the expected benefits after successful reforms in tenancy laws.

Tenancy reforms aim at redistributing ownership over the land holding from the view point of social justice, and reorganizing operational holdings from the viewpoint of optimum utilization of land. Growth in population and the decline in joint families in Indian society have led to the fragmentation of land holdings leaving nuclear families with small plots that barely meet their food requirements.

Need for tenancy reforms:

  • Significant tracts of land remain barren and uncultivated even after fragmentation of the land among nuclear families.
  • To give legal status to tenancy: Land leasing option faces legal difficulties as most States either ban tenancy or permit it strictly in certain circumstances. This has become a hindrance in progressive revenue models like that of Contract farming.
  • To encourage owners to take up non-farm jobs as they are hesitant now as they may lose the ownership over the land if leased out.
  • Due to flawed tenancy laws or their absence, farmers don’t have farm security, which reduces their incentive to improvise and make long term investment in that farm.
  • It is essential that we raise prosperity in agriculture as rapidly as possible as a large number of workforce will still remain dependent on agriculture in the years to come.
  • The existing tenancy laws only pertain to individual tenants and cultivators and not institutions. Land owners who have land that they are unable to cultivate can be encouraged to lease them to land banks.

Impediments;

  • Lack digitised data and records of the landholdings of the people with the government, which act as a major impediment in the way of tenancy reforms.
  • Complexity of land laws and the conflicts between centre and state implementing agencies creates issues.
  • There is a plethora of pending cases in the courts of laws.
  • Government on various occasions face protest from the public and opposition in an attempt to introduce the land bill. Political will, hence, remains a major case of concern too.

Expected benefits from tenancy reforms:

  • Reforming tenancy laws and replacing them with contracts will protect property rights, bring more land under cultivation, and encourage investment. Returns for cultivators and owners both will increase.
  • Legal documents can lead to improvement in the terms of land use and facilitate access to credit and other social security benefits from the government for tenants and cultivators.
  • This would give greater sense of security to the owner who wants to lease out land and it will also give greater certainty of tenure to the tenant.
  • It will open doors for the consolidation of the operational land holdings.

The tenancy reforms indeed are an important step. The equitable distribution will require creating good jobs in the industries and services to which some landless rural workers and marginal farmers can migrate. To achieve this aim we should enact Model Land Leasing Act proposed by NITI Aayog.

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