Skip to main content

Failure of land reforms and rise of 'absentee' landlords: Why farmers' agitation is rocking

By NS Venkataraman*

From time immemorial, agriculture has always remained as an important and one of the most respected subjects in India. In recent times, it is receiving much more attention and considerable technology inputs and management techniques. This is a welcome development.
However, discordant voices are also frequently heard from those who term themselves as kisans and some of them are indulging in public protest and demonstrations for one reason or the other. They disrupt public life, block the highways, demanding greater privileges and support from the government. In the process, agriculture subject is getting mixed with politics and with some of the “kisans” sounding more like politicians than agriculturists.
The present ongoing agitation in Punjab and Haryana against the recently enacted farm laws and the way in which the protests are being organized and the adamant stand of the protesters, have made many people to start thinking and introspecting as to who is the real kisan and who is not.
As generally understood, those involved in agriculture operations are broadly divided into five categories.
There are absentee landlords who do not live near their agricultural holdings and even live abroad and entrust their agricultural land on lease and collect income (lease rent) every year. They too call themselves as kisan but the right terminology should be “absentee owner of land”.
There are others who live near the agricultural holdings but do not work physically on their land and engage workmen and women to cultivate the land and these workers are paid wages. They too call themselves as kisan, whereas the appropriate name for them should be “agricultural entrepreneur”.
Another category is those who own a small area of land and physically work on land by themselves and their family members and cultivate. They are the real kisans.
Then, there are those who do not own land but work on the land getting daily wages , with no responsibility for yield but are expected to work hard. They do not get any social security coverage and they are generally termed as agricultural tillers. They do not have any job security. As they physically work on land, they should be duly recognized as real kisan. This is not done.
Further, there is one more category who do not own land and who are not involved in agricultural operations directly or indirectly but procure the agricultural products and sell them in the market, through mandis or other means. Many times, they extend loans to the cultivators at exorbitant interest or pay them a sale price in advance for their agricultural products, fixing low price.
They hoard the products, deliberately increase the price in the market and make big profits. They too claim that they are part of kisan class but they should really be termed as agricultural traders (middlemen).
The ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi has confused many people in India, who have emotional attachment to the kisans and are spontaneously grateful to them
In the case of ongoing farmers’ agitation near Delhi, many middle men (traders) as well as those who do not actually work on the land and absentee land owners term themselves as farmers and are conducting the protest christening it as farmers’ protest. They have the money power and probably they can pay wages to the workers in agricultural fields, who are called tillers and bring them to the protest site to make it look like a big crowd. Obviously, these tillers must be happy because they continue to earn wages and in this case without working!
In the case of most of the land reform measures of the government initiated in the past few decades, most of the benefits have not reached the agricultural tillers (real kisans) and small landowners who physically work on the land (real kisans) but the benefits of the government schemes largely reach the other categories mentioned above, ( non-working farmers) and they get the lion’s share of the benefits.
It is very well known that the real kisans do not realize an adequate sale price for their products but only those who do not work on the land get the maximum benefits. This problem of the real kisan has been under public debate for the last few decades. When the present government tries to find a solution for the problems of the real kisans, the non-working farmers are upset and they protest. They have the money power to keep the protest ongoing for a very long time.
Most of the agitation by the farmers in recent years are really organized not by the real kisans but only the other category of people.
The ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi has confused many people in India, who have emotional attachment to the kisans and are spontaneously grateful to them for giving food to the countrymen. They feel very sad to see the people sitting in bitter cold and protesting and demonstrating for several days now, though with reasonable comforts such as geysers and several other gadgets, which a real kisan may not have used at all in his lifetime.
In such conditions, the image about kisan in the mind of the people is now undergoing change.  Now, the time has come to clearly distinguish between the real kisans from fake kisans.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen