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Women "operate" 13% of land holdings in India; Andhra Pradesh tops with 22%, Gujarat 14%, UP worse 7%

Counterview Desk
A new book seeking to study the land reforms process in 11 Indian states has revealed that women across India “operate” only 12.78 per cent of the total operational holdings of India, covering an area of 10.34 per cent of the total operated area, even though there is “considerable variation” across Indian states.
Published by Action Aid, a well-known multinational advocacy group, the book, titled “Land to the Tiller: Revisiting the Unfinished Land Reforms Agenda”, quoting official figures, has said that around 25 per cent holdings in united Andhra Pradesh are operated by women, covering 22 per cent of the total oper ated area in the state, which is the highest among 11 states.
Authored by land reforms experts and activists, the comparison of women's land holdings, drawn by editor Prashant K Trivedi, says that the figures “in a way also reflect the gender-biased nature of the green revolution, which has led to even more concentration of land.”
Following Andhra Pradesh, come southern states of Tamil Nadu (19.11 per cent holdings operating 16.28 per cent area) and Karnataka (18.97 per cent holdings operating 15.53 per cent area), the Trivedi says, adding, then comes the turn of “western states of Maharashtra (14.99 per cent holdings operating 13.08 per cent area) and Gujarat (14.12 per cent holdings operating 13.18 per cent area) come next.”
“In Bihar”, he says, “14.06 per cent landholdings covering an area of 13.29 per cent are operated by women. Comparable figures are 10.98 per cent and 8.17 per cent in Jharkhand, respectively.” “Surprisingly”, Trivedi says, “The situation in Punjab was even worse than that in Haryana (12.06 per cent holdings operating 11.11 per cent area), a state with similar land laws.”
Then come “Uttar Pradesh (6.95 per cent holdings operating 5.38 per cent area) and Rajasthan (7.93 per cent holdings operating 6.29 per cent area)”, at the rock bottom.
Pointing out that “amendments to the Hindu Succession Act were intended to address these inequalities”, Trivedi says, “However, issues remain with its implementation and the fate of women, who remain outside this law, is still uncertain.”
Yet, the book believes, it is “an important law because in India inheritance still remains the largest channel of landed property transfers. Several state governments offer concessions on stamp duty if a property is registered in the name of a woman only.”
“While this attempt is laudable, it is likely to have an impact only on a minuscule proportion of land transactions, given the fact that market transactions of landed property in rural India are only a fraction of transaction done through inheritance”, the book states.
This is reflected in states like Gujarat, where the provision has been made for 2 per cent concession in stamp duty for women buying property, says the chapter on Gujarat authored by Pankti Jog. Also, there is a separate GR which mentions that a house allotted under the Indira Awas Yojana will be in a woman’s name.
Jog says, “Several land issues need to be looked into from the gender perspective especially where women’s land rights are violated or not exercised, and women’s status is deteriorated due to various social, cultural and political reasons which are deterring this process.”
“For instance”, it says, “Privatization of common property resources (CPRs) deprives women of livelihoods, day- to-day household needs, nutrition, medicinal use and healthcare. ”
Further, it says, “Women are seen as a monolithic group by the state government and, therefore, issues of single women, or female-headed households, and women belonging to socially and economically marginalized communities are neglected, or not given due importance, or priority for land allocation, or land use for livelihood purposes.”
Pointing that “no sex-aggregated data on landownership is available”, the book says, “As a result, women are not able to prove their ownership or right over land or over shelter.” It adds, “Not having assets in a woman’s name tends to contribute to increasing violence and crime against women and deterioration in their socioeconomic status.”

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