Land Ceiling in India Features, Benefits, Limitations Notes4UPSC

Land Ceiling in India Features, Benefits, Limitations Notes4UPSC


    Land reforms, After independence: Abolition of Zamindari, Reasons, Impact, Obstacles, Limitations.

After freedom, State Governments enacted Zamindari Abolition Acts. As a result erstwhile (superior) tenants became virtual owners of their land. =This is First tool of Land reform.

Now comes the new problem:

  1. After abolition of Zamindari, the (superior) tenant farmers became virtual owners of the land. They owned tens and hundreds of acres of land. While other (inferior tenants/sharecroppers/landless laborers) owned nothing.
  2. Many Zamindars themselves kept lot of land in pretext of ‘personal cultivation’.
Land Ceiling in India Features, Benefits, Limitations Notes4UPSC

Therefore, State governments enacted land ceiling acts. individual farmer cannot own land beyond say 10 acres. Thus, if a farmer owned 12 acres, government would take away 12-10=2 acres of surplus land from him, and “distribute” it to some landless laborers. This is Second tool of Land reform.

before going further let’s again recap the players in a tenancy system

What is Ceiling on Land Holdings?

  • It means fixing maximum size of land holding that an individual/family can own.
  • Land over and above the ceiling limit, called surplus land.
  • if the individual/family owns more land than the ceiling limit, the surplus land is taken away (with or without paying compensation to original owner)
  • This surplus land is
    1. distributed among small farmers, tenants, landless labourers or
    2. handed over to village panchayat or
    3. Given to cooperative farming societies.

Why Ceiling on Land holdings?

  1. Because DPSP Art.38 seeks to minimize the inequalities of income, status, facilities and opportunities. Land ceiling minimize inequality in the land ownership and thus reduces inequality of income.
  2. Because DPSP Art.39 wants to ensure that the operation of economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth. In a village, land=wealth, hence land ceiling is necessary to prevent concentration of wealth in the hands of few.
  3. Because DPSP Art.39 wants to give right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens. Land ceiling (and subsequent land redistribution) provides self-employment opportunities to landless agricultural laborers.
  4. If there is no land ceiling, rich farmers will buy all the land of entire village and tehsil. But since they cannot cultivate all the land by themselves- theyll lease it to small farmers (tenants). Small farmer (tenant) doesnt have any motivation to work harder because he doesnt own the land and he has to give 30-50-70% of the produce to that rich farmer, as rent= exploitation.
  5. So, After abolishing Zamindari, IF State Governments had not implemented Land ceiling, then rich farmers/superior tenants would have become the new de-facto/virtual Zamindars of Modern India.

Although, economists who believe in free market / capitalism, donot like land ceiling. We’ll see their anti-land ceiling arguments at the end of this article. But for the moment, let’s continue with the assumption that land ceiling is beneficial.

Land Ceiling: Pro and Anti arguments

Like I said in the middle of the article- the economists believing in free market / capitalism- they don’t like land ceiling. So let’s hear their arguments

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