1. Abolition of Intermediaries

In South Asia, measures for abolition of feudal and semifeudal tenures have been taken as a first step in land reform. In India, where more than 40 per cent of the total area was held in zamindaris, jagirs and inams, laws were enacted in 1951—52, by which these tenures were converted into ryotwari, i. e. the cultivators (more than 20 mio.) became owners with direct relation to the state. In East Pakistan, where more than 90 per cent of the land was held in zamindari tenure, its abolition was enacted in 1951: the West Pakistan Land Reform Law also abolished jagirs and similar intermediaries. In Nepal, birta tenure was abolished in 1960 and zamindari tenure in 1964. While in Nepal implementation is still under way, it has been completed in India and Pakistan.

These measures were quite successful in abolishing the anachronistic tenures. Cultivators are no longer subjugated to mere rent receivers and exploitation has been reduced. Direct contact between cultivators and Government has also strengthened the rural administration because the areas are now under government administration, while formerly, the jagirdaris executed administrative duties, but often failed to fulfil their obligations. There was a change also in the rural power structure, with the smaller, but local landlords replacing the absentee landlords in the local hierarchy. However, not all wishes have been fulfilled. The laws were intended to abolish specific tenure forms, but not landlordism in general. In fact, the problem of landlordism was not tackled at all.

Allocating land to the cultivating tenant does not necessarily place it in the hand of the tiller, since under South Asian conditions, protected tenants often rent out their land. Transfer of title to the so-called cultivating groups of the population improved the position of the higher rural classes while the underprivileged tenants and sharecroppers did not benefit. With the exeption of East Pakistan, where sub-letting was specifically forbidden, sub-tenancy continued to prevail. In East Pakistan, many sharecroppers descended to the status of labourers because of restraints with respect to sub-letting. A related problem arose from the fact that the intermediaries were allowed to resume land for personal cultivation. This term was not properly defined. This provision again caused eviction of many tenants because intermediaries started cultivating with the use of labourers, so as to qualify under the provision for personal cultivation. In many countries a long period of litigation on the question whether the law was constitutional ensued giving the landlords sufficient time to change from sharecropping to cultivation with labourers as well as to distribute the land among relatives.

Compensation was paid on the basis of graded rates, in relation to the net income from the estates, but at higher rates to those with smaller incomes. Compensation was generally quite generous and this caused a liability of 5,000 mio. rupees to the Government of India and of 363 mio. rupees to Pakistan. No provision was made to ensure the investment of these compensation so as to promote economic development.