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.