In support of property rights for farmers

Dispossession is not development

As Mint points out “though the Gandhians who have brought 25,000 of India’s poor to the capital city may not see it this way, their battle is for secure property rights”

The Janadesh movement has brought to the fore an issue that few political parties—not even and especially the Left—want to talk about: clear, unambiguous and transferable property rights for everyone, especially in this context, India’s farmers. [Janadesh has a slick website, curiously also in a French language version.]

Yes, there’s a need for a National Land Reform Policy and the time for it is now.

7 thoughts on “In support of property rights for farmers”

  1. the Gandhians who have brought

    Gandhians include ChristianAid ???
    Everyday, we learn new things , i guess.

  2. Nitin, hardly. I don’t think Mint knows what it’s talking about. It’s true property right is the first step in getting a sane economy going, but this demo for land or patta to a land is mostly another take of land redistribution – an old socialist claim to utopia. There is an institution in Seattle that advocates this, although these guys don’t seem to be related – it’s mainly a European led undertaking.

    They all think that giving a family a acre (or two) of land will pull them out of poverty. Sure they can grow vegetables for feeding their families and then what? With no real farm credit available – it’s bad financing practices followed by cycle of poverty (or suicides). And worst of all a practice that Congress I has perfected since Indira time is to give arid waste land to these demands (now Sonia’s favorite – forest land, as though we have lot of that) and wash off their hands. I’m almost positive that would be Manmohan’s solution again. It’s a false dream these guys and obliging socialist govts promote.

    Instead of promoting more small farm owners and continued cycle of poverty, especially without support irrigation networks and other infrastructure, govt should be promoting job creation so that unskilled workers can be gainfully absorbed into the economy.

  3. Chandra: wish you had read the entire article that Nitin linked to.

    This is what Mint said:

    “But further parcelling of land alone is unlikely to help the poor in the long run. Various official studies have shown that large swathes of Indian agriculture are uneconomical. Harsh though it sounds, the protesters seem to be barking up the wrong tree.
    A more realistic strategy is to link rural India more tightly with the booming global economy. Rural poverty rates have dropped in the past two decades, despite the fact that farm output has increased at a far slower pace than the growth in industry and services. This is partly because of the gradual diversification of the rural economy.
    Further reductions in rural poverty will depend on fewer obstacles in the way of more investment in labour-intensive manufacturing, low-skill services and modern agriculture that is linked to consumer markets by retail chains. Jobs and small businesses that offer a minimum income are far superior alternatives to subsistence farming.”

  4. Mini, my bad – I haven’t read Mint’s editorial. That I agree with the quote you provide but not the quote that Nitin provides. I looked at Janadesh’s website (and it’s European edition) and that entity and this march has nothing to do with property rights.

    In fact solid property rights in India were watered down in the late 60s and early 70s, by Indira Gandhi along with her communists supporters (who were supporting Congress I from outside the govt – sounds familiar?), precisely because of demands such as these. And I’d think with a little prodding from Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan will do precisely the wrong, again.

  5. The protestors, for all their gallant efforts, have gotten nothing, and have clung to whatever promises made by the Centre as “victory”. Secure land rights would require a monumental constitutional amendment that would not only bring back the Right to Property as a fundamental right, but find ways in which it can be restrained adequately without curtailing it totally before it is decided in multiple rounds of endless litigation ultimately ending up in the Supreme Court.

    Even if they had gotten what they were asking for, the present state of Indian agriculture would have put them in no better position. I doubt that any land re-distribution programme would involve too much of irrigated land, and it is unlikely that many will have the resources to arrange for private borewells. Add to that the vagaries of weather (sorry, “climate change” since everything these days has to be attributed to it), the middlemen, falling prices, high cost of inputs…. and you are driving into suicide alley.

    If they had instead gotten a firm commitment that the Centre would invest in making sure that every village had a functioning primary school, and a functioning Primary Health Care centre, and as pointed out earlier, better access to cities and the rest of the economy, they would have probably been on the right path.

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