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Land Reform in India and Pakistan

P. C. Joshi
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 5, No. 52 (Dec. 26, 1970), pp. A145+A147-A149+A151-A152
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4360876
Page Count: 6
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Land Reform in India and Pakistan
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Abstract

A general survey of land reform policy and programmes in India and Pakistan during the two decades since Independence suggests that (i) The social motivation for agrarian policy in both countries was provided by the contending pressures of the erstwhile semi-feudal landlords on the one hand and the emerging class of medium land-owners and superior tenants on the other. (ii) Within this common frame the variations between India and Pakistan were determined by the relatively greater pull of the old landed class in Pakistan and of the upper layer of the peasantry in India. (iii) In both countries the rural poor were neither articulate nor organised at the political level to exercise influence on land reform policy in their favour either at the stage of legislation or of implementation. (iv) The impact of land reform has been positive for the intermediate classes which have been upgraded and pushed into a position of prominence both in the land and the power structures. On the other hand, the impact has been by and large negative for the rural poor. Land reform has been instrumental in disturbing the old framework within which the rural poor had some security without creating for them alternative forms of security. Against this background, the increasing discontent of the rural poor provides the class motivation for a new type of land reform in the coming phase. In this new context, the scope for as well as the powerful impediments to implementing a radical land reform deserve attention. The fast increasing politicisation of the rural poor is making them deeply dissatisfied with, and intolerant of, their continuing deprivation. On the other hand, any bold initiative in the interests of the poor has to reckon now with the formidable economic power of the new landed class and the ramifications of this power in the political sphere. The resolution of these contradictory pulls is the most formidable challenge confronting political elites in the coming years. [This paper forms part of a bigger study on 'Land Reforms and Agrarian Change in India and Pakistan' done at the Asian Research Centre of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.]

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