Small Landlords

This group of small landlords is characterized by the fact that they own more land than they can cultivate with just their family labour, To do the agricultural work, they employ, on the basis of varying labour and lease conditions, people who do not belong to their family. Their property is often not much larger than that of a family farms. Today, the majority of them is likely to own 25 to 150 acres of irrigated land. Due to the agrarian reforms, the units of landed property exceeding this size are few.

The people concerned belong to the rural upper class who enjoy a high social status and possess wealth, economic, anal political power. Their outstanding position is based on landed property. In contrast to the former large landlords, they mostly live in villages and are interested in the cultivation of their land which, traditionally, was leased to sharecroppers. Their relationship to the sharecroppers was of a patriarchal, but quite personal, nature owing to their living and working together their whole life. They are often good farmers who reinvest large shares of their profits, e.g., for improving irrigation, levelling fields, etc. They and their children have often received school education; especially the young generation has quite often attended secondary schools. Many civil servants and officers are likewise recruited among the members of this group.

They quickly accepted the new seed that was the basis of the Green Revolution. Trey possessed the necessary information, had access to farm inputs (which were scare in the beginning), and, whenever necessary, to loans, and could also shoulder the risk of innovating. Their prompt participation turned out to be profitable. They experienced large production increases and thus increases in their income, and came into the full enjoyment of the government subsidies.

The experience that agriculture can be a lucrative enterprise brought about a basic change in their attitude, and soon made of a way of life a business. Water very soon constituted a bottleneck, since without it the new seed could not be used. In order not to have to depend on the insufficient and unreliable canal irrigation, they began to invest their yields on a large scale and constructed tube wells with pumps operated by electricity or diesel. Controlled irrigation allowed a change in the cropping system and an increase in the cropping intensity. The new bottleneck which now stood in the way was the limited draught power. Oxen were slow and were only capable of working a few hours a day. Tnis problem was solved by purchasing tractors. Within a few years, this group completely dropped land cultivation employing oxen for mechanized agriculture. The government encouraged this by means of financial incentives, e.g., duty free importation of tractors and subvention of fuel. For a while, tractors in India and Pakistan were the cheapest in the world.

Such transformations brought about a basic change in the production factor ratios. The landlords observed that farming under the traditional conditions of sharecropping at a 50 : 50 ratio had become very expensive since, considering the new high yields, 50% represented more than twice the payment which had been usual until only a short time before. Moreover, one of the main tasks of the sharecroppers, the keeping of a pair of draughtoxen, had became superfluous because of the tractors. The landlords tried to change the ratio since they now wanted only human labour from the tenants and not draught animals. This led to unrest and strikes during the harvest.

It was not long before the landlords basically changed their labour organization.The tenants were dismissed and some of them reemployed as agricultural labourers. The rest of them were offered work only at harvest time. Some of the landlords even tried not to be dependent on this and purchased combine harvesters. However, their importation was soon prohibited.

Thus, the trend that arose through the agrarian reform to change from tenant to owner cultivation continued to assert itself. The number of tenants decreased rapidly. Since the increase in the agricultural labourers' wages in the early years was minimal, the landlords benefitted even more from the higher yields. Agriculture had became such a profitable business that even members of the urban upper stratum began to invest in land. The land market came into motion. The landowners tried to purchase or rent additional land to carry out their lucrative business on still larger areas.

The group of small landlords therefore drew considerable benefits from the Green Revolution and could decisively improve their economic situation, Those who were already wealthy formerly became still richer and the gap between the poor and the rich became wider. But the change in their attitude was even more important. A downright hankering after earning money developed, and some of the people took to marked commercialism. The earlier paternalism, the obligation towards the labourers to care for them, was given up and the little security which the labourers and tentants had enjoyed was thus lost. There was, however, a limitation. Irrigated land was not the only condition for participating in the Green Revolution. It had to be combined with dynamism and intelligence. This applied especially to many of the younger landlords. But a gap arose between the landlords. Quite a number did not succeed in effecting the change from landlords to commercial farmers and hardly had a share in the increased income. The majority, however, improved their economic situation and their political power. They occupied the influential positions in the parliaments at the district and state levels and saw to it that the agrarian policy which was profitable to them was pursued. Under the economic and political aspects, the small landlords are the main beneficiaries of the Green Revolution.