Land in India is a deeply contentious issue. Its roots can be traced back to Colonial past when the British regime devised ways to ‘organise’ India’s agrarian relations to collect revenue and boost industrialisation in the early 19th century Britain. Post-Independence, in 1951, the Indian Parliament put land reform laws outside judicial intervention. It was now up to people’s representatives, mostly comprising the landed gentry, to legislate on land reform. Barring few exceptions, most of rural and tribal India, came to be controlled by a Centre-State dispensation that closely approximated feudal aspirations and kept most of the masses in dispossession and penury. The Constitution of India mandates an equitable society, one in which every person has the right to dignity and livelihood. Redistributive justice lies at the heart of this mandate, yet 63 years after Independence, India is still struggling to deliver justice to its citizens. The socio-economic changes caused by 1990s free-market economy, has further deepened the chasm between the elite and those dependant on land and forests for their sustenance.
This has led to deep turmoil forcing many rural poor to join hands with Naxalites/Maoists in their armed rebellion for justice. On 9 January 2008, The Ministry of Rural Development instituted a ‘Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reform’. The Committee submitted its report to the Government in 2009-end but there has been little movement on it so far. For Ekta Parishad, land is the key issue, since it provides the possibilty for the poor to live a life of dignity and well-being rather than become dependent on industrialization and urbanization.
* See Committee Report on ‘State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reform’
* See New Vision for Land Reform
* See ’15 July 2010 Bhopal Declaration – Response to Violence: Strengthening Non-Violent Action’