Land Reforms in India

 “Ill-defined property rights and high transaction costs in land market have become one of the most significant factors depressing the country’s ease of doing business.”  Examine why India’s record in land titling is poor, its impact on economy and measures needs to be taken in this regard. (200 Words)
Historical context:
Colonial rule made land a property and post-Independence, zamindari could not be abolished as legislations were stalled in the House and in courts as well. Land ceiling laws were bypassed and the conduct of lower level officials left a lot desired in ethics. Tillers were mostly not the owners. Bhoodan movement could not sustain momentum.
Land Acquisition act 1894 continued to be in force and was seen as Draconian for small and marginal owners and also seen as promoting corruption. Land acquisition remained a major problem and so private entities desired governments to acquire land and thus allegations of corruption, profiteering pitted against the welfarian essence of the Constitution. Much civil society voice was raised and resulted in 2013 act.
Reason of ill-defined laws:
  1. Historical reason- Colonial government recorded only revenue generating lands. And after Independence, Indian govt. did not take the burden to register properties.
  2. Land as state subject- Land is the state subject hence onus to proper registering falls on them. But only few states has taken commendable step in this direction. e.g. Kerala and West Bengal
  3. Political and administrative inefficiency- Duplication of registration, decreasing difference between rural and urban lands, and Municipal incorporation’s reluctance to maintain record is some vital issues.
Impact on economy-
  1. Delayed projects due to land claims and litigations
  2. Investor confidence waned.
  3. Exploitation of labour continued as he/she had no ownership.
  4. Land fragmentations made agriculture unviable and lost scales.
  5. Land overall became a dead asset as it couldn’t be traded. But acquired lands were allegedly sold at windfall gains generating corruption and black money.
Thus, land reforms are required at a much greater pace. States should come up with their own acts under overall umbrella guidance of the Centre. Legislations like Rajasthan’s Urban Land certification of titles bill 2016 will formalise the land, eliminate uncertainties associated with it and make it tradable. Centre announced Land Transformation Management in Union budget. Use of technology like GPS, compuetrisation and digitization with Aadhar can also address the issue to a large extent.



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