‘Land to the tiller’ – By Devaraj Urs
“Land to the tiller” slogan by Karnataka Government under Devaraj Urs was significant in empowering sections of Backward community. Examine.
Introduction: Mention the importance of Land reforms in rural Karnataka.
Body: Give a brief history of Land reforms in Karnataka. Present the various aspects of ‘Land to the tiller’ slogan by Devaraj Urs. Highlight how it was efficient compared to others.
Conclusion: Conclude that the land reforms initiated by Devaraj Urs become a role model in the whole of the country.
Devaraj Urs and Land Reform:
As Chief Minister, Devaraj Urs’s first priority was land reform, and his slogan was "Land to the tiller"; under him a sustained effort was made to equalize the land distribution through much of the state.
Karnataka, thus, other than the communist bastions of Kerala and West Bengal, has had one of the most successful land redistributions in the country.
The Land Reforms initiated by the Urs government received applause from all quarters.
Karnataka land reforms focused on three areas:
- Conferment of occupancy rights to tillers
- Ceiling on holding of agricultural land
- Distribution of the ceiling surplus land among the rural poor specifically with Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes in Karnataka.
Under the Land Reforms act of 1961 brought into force with effect from 1965, there were two ceilings- 27 standard acres in case of existing holdings and 18 standard acres in the case of future acquisitions.
- The Urs government with the object of securing more land for distribution among landless, decided to reduce the ceiling on land holdings in the state by amending the Land Reforms Act and the amended Act came into force from 1st March 1974.
- For conferring ownership of land to tenants, 175 Land Tribunals headed by an Assistant Commissioner were constituted, one for each taluk. The Land Tribunals were responsible for conferring the occupancy rights for tenants on the basis of the applications filed before it by the tenants before 31st December 1974 (later the time limit was extended).
- There was no provision for appeal against the decision given by the Tribunal.
- A tenant holding land from one or more than one landlord was entitled to choose the area and the location of the land for which he wished to become a registered tenant.
- To speed up the disposal of the applications, the state government created additional tribunals in South Kanara (Dakshina Kannada) and North Kanara (Uttara Kannada) districts, where claims were plenty.
- In Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur districts, though the population of tenants was quite substantial, the number of tenants who came forward to file application for occupancy rights was much lower than what could be gathered from the district agricultural census figures. Hence the Deputy Commissioner of those district were asked to probe into the factors responsible for the hesitation on the part of the tenants to avail themselves of the benefits and a vigorous campaign was launched.
- Originally the conferment of occupancy right on the tenant was conditional on his paying the specific price spread over 20 years. The provision subsequently underwent some refinement, whereby the government thought that the price must be payable in one lump sum so that the payment of compensation to the dispossessed landlords become less cumbersome.
- The State Land Development Bank provided financial assistance to tenants for paying the occupancy price.
- For the purpose of fixing the ceiling, land was classified into A, B, C and D. The ceiling under class A getting assured supply of water from a government source for growing two crops per year was fixed at 10 acres, while the maximum permissible holding was fixed at 54 acres under the last i.e. D category.
- The Act required the landholder to make a declaration of their holding and on the basis of around one lakh declaration made by the landholders, it was calculated that around four lakh acres of surplus land would be available when the ceiling was imposed.
- The surplus land was distributed to the landless through a scheme of reservations by which 50% was reserved for Schedule Castes, 10% for ex- Servicemen and the rest to others.
- Implementing the Land Reforms Act, Urs had freed thousands of farmers from the clutches of landlords, who used to treat them harshly. It was a landmark piece of legislation which brought a major social and economic change in the State
- It lead to the awakening of new political ideology that sought to curb the political and economic power of the dominant castes in Karnataka
- It led to radical reforms in the political and social structure, through legal abolition of tenancy by passing of the Land Reforms Act 1974 in Karnataka
- Then abolition of tenancy created uncultivated land as owners who inherited small land areas could not lease out as they would lose their land according to the new laws and they could not do agriculture asthey engaged in non-agricultural occupation as this led land to become barren and useless
- Land reforms has reduced the rent, provided the tenancy rights to the peasants and facilitated in securing better standards of living for them.