The Defects of Distributing Plots of Land
Another political group in India wants to bring about radical changes in the economic sphere by transferring all power to the masses.
According to them, every citizen should own a certain portion of land – no one should remain landless.
Poor people are easily won over by these sentiments.
Politicians espouse these ideas merely to lure people so that they can fulfil their own political aspirations. Poor landless peasants become overjoyed at the prospect of owning their own land, then politicians use them to achieve their objectives.
A particular political party today advocates forcibly depriving landowners of their land and distributing it to the landless peasants. By creating a rift between the landowners and agricultural workers, these politicians try to cultivate a philanthropic image.
- If surplus land were distributed among landless people, no one would get more than an acre of land at the most.
This acre of land would not be an ideal economic holding because it could not be cultivated with the latest scientific methods.
A sizeable portion of the land would be wasted in demarcating boundary lines, so it would be impossible to increase productivity.
Increased productivity is the most important agricultural requirement in India today. Besides this, if land were distributed in this way, land would be further subdivided with the increase in the population, further aggravating the problem.
- Land redistrubution would increase the number of petit bourgeoisie.
By petit bourgeoisie I mean those who derive unearned income by giving their land to others for cultivation because they are in economic difficulty.
If landless peasants acquired a plot of one acre, they would certainly get some psychic satisfaction. But when they failed to earn anything after cultivating the land, they would definitely become disheartened.
It would require all their time, energy and money to cultivate one acre of land productively because the land would be too small to utilize modern agricultural techniques.
The amount of produce they would get in return would not be enough to maintain their families. They would have to lease a portion of the land and try to earn their income through other methods. By this process, the number of landowners would increase and they would all become part of the petit bourgeoisie.
Politicians who claim that they hate landowners and raise slogans for their destruction deviate from their professed platform, because such an ideology only results in the creation of more landowners.
- Before the redistribution of the land, politicians instigate hostilities against the landowners
- forcibly occupy the land
- steal the produce
- set fire to the crops
Consequently, landowners become increasingly indifferent to the agricultural production of their land as they have no economic security.
When these factors are combined together, they only aggravate the agricultural problem rather than solve it.
Thus, in order to solve the agricultural problems in India, the Chinese system, which is based on the principle that the one who works the plough should own the land, is not applicable.
Rather, to solve India’s agricultural problems, there must be a radical change in the entire agricultural system.
According to PROUT, to facilitate increased production economic holdings must first be reorganized. An economic holding means a holding where output exceeds input. It is not possible to predetermine the size of this economic unit. While considering input, output, productivity, etc., to determine the optimum size of an economic unit, factors like the fertility of the soil, climatic conditions, etc., will have to be considered.
Today many people believe that increased production is possible even if landholdings are small. Increased production depends upon the expertise of farm managers and their correct, timely decisions. If managers are competent, then even very large farms can increase production. Of course, it is not necessary that all farms should become large. The main thing is that the holdings should be economically viable. There is no valid reason why there is a fifteen percent loss in the annual production of the large collective farms in the Soviet Union.
To increase productivity and prevent the growth of large exploitative cultivators, the minimum and maximum size of an economic landholding should be determined.
The minimum size of a landholding should be equal to the size of an economic holding in a particular region. Thus, the minimum size of an economic holding will vary from place to place. The maximum size of a landholding will depend upon the fertility of the soil, overall production and the expertise of the management. Economic holdings will generally comprise land of the same topography having adequate irrigation and other agricultural facilities. The size of economic holdings must be progressively increased keeping all these factors in mind.
The size of economic holdings may vary from country to country. At the same time the size may also vary within a country. In the Indo-Gangetic plains, a five acre holding is abundantly productive, whereas in Ladakh or the Chotanagpur Hills, even fifteen or sixteen acres of land may not yield enough produce for subsistence. The size of economic holdings in these two places is bound to vary.
The following should be remembered. First, distributing land to people will not solve their problems. The ownership of the land is inconsequential; what counts is the production from the land. Secondly, merely delegating the management of land to someone will not yield the desired production. It is not always possible for one person to invest the money necessary to cultivate the land according to the most modern methods, so the production of the land is bound to decrease. Above all, in a healthy economy, economic decentralization is essential. The Cooperative System
For decentralization, agricultural land should be managed through the cooperative system. However, it is not wise to suddenly hand over all land to cooperative management because cooperatives evolve out of the collective labour and wisdom of a community. The community must develop an integrated economic environment, common economic needs and a ready market for its cooperatively produced goods. Unless these three factors work together, an enterprise cannot be called a cooperative.
After creating a congenial environment, land will have to be handed over to cooperative management. Then, with the help of appropriate scientific technology, it will be possible to increase agricultural production.
There should be a two phase plan to introduce cooperative land management. In the first phase, all uneconomic holdings should be required to join the cooperative system so that they will become economic holdings. In this phase, cooperatives will only consist of those people who merged their land together to make uneconomic holdings economic. Private ownership will be recognized. For instance, one person may own one acre, another two acres and a third person three acres within the cooperative.
Each cooperative member will be entitled to a dividend based on the total production in proportion to the land they donated to the cooperative. Each individual will retain the deed of ownership of their land, but agricultural activities will be conducted cooperatively. Consequently, land which remained utilized as boundary lines will no longer be left uncultivated. In certain places in Bihar and Bengal the total area of arable land is less than the amount of land wasted on boundary lines. If this system is implemented, all will benefit.
In the first phase of the plan, those owning land which is productive as an economic holding need not be persuaded to join a cooperative. But if an economic holding comprises land which is dispersed in small plots, the scattered plots should be consolidated into one holding. Alternatively, wherever small, scattered, uneconomic plots are located, they will have to be joined together under cooperative management.
In the second phase all should be encouraged to join the cooperative system.
In the third phase there should be rational distribution of land and redetermination of ownership. In this new system two factors will determine the rational distribution of land – the minimum holding of land necessary to maintain a family, and the farmer’s capacity to utilize the land.
In the fourth phase there will be no conflict over the ownership of land. A congenial environment will exist due to psychic expansion because people will learn to think for the collective welfare rather than for their petty self-interest. Such a change will certainly not come overnight. Unless there is suitable psychic preparation through internal urge and external pressure, adjusting with the time factor, people will never accept this system, and it cannot be forcibly imposed on them.
The leaders of the Soviet Union were ignorant of the collective psychology of the people, so they tried to impose collective farming by force. This produced severe famines and massive civil unrest. While trying to cope with these problems, the administration resorted to brute force instead of adopting psychological measures, and as a result they annihilated many people. Sadvipras will never go against the spirit of a country and cause its ruin.
Many people raise questions regarding cooperatives because in most countries the cooperative system has failed. On the basis of the examples to date, it is not appropriate to criticize the cooperative system. This is because most countries could not evolve the indispensable conditions necessary for the success of the cooperative system. Cooperatives depend upon three main factors for their success – morality, strong supervision and the wholehearted acceptance of the masses. Wherever these three factors have been evident in whatever measure, cooperatives have achieved proportionate success.
Take the case of Israel. Because the country is surrounded by enemies on all sides, the people are extremely aware of the need to be self-reliant. People want wholeheartedly to consolidate the national economy. Thus, they have converted arid deserts into productive agricultural land through the cooperative system.
This kind of mentality was never created in India. This is why India is a classic example of the failure of the cooperative system.
Indian cooperatives were not created for economic development, but for the fulfilment of political interests. This made it impossible for the cooperative system to succeed.
Good examples must be established to encourage people to adopt the cooperative system. There should be pilot cooperative projects, machine stations, adequate irrigation systems, and improved seeds and insecticides.
At the same time, people must be educated about the beneficial aspects of cooperatives. Instead of educating people how to increase the productivity of their land, the leaders of India show films on birth control in the market place.
I call such people the greatest enemies of humanity.