The BJP government in the state is now bringing in amendments to the land Reforms Act. This anti-farmer program is being implemented in pursuance of the orders from the Modi government.
In Karnataka, landlords had provided land to the poor on lease anywhere between 2-3 acres. This has kept them for long under slavery. These practices which keep the poor as such, have been a widespread practice in districts including Shimoga and Chikkamagaluru. Kadidal Manjappa, Basavani Ramasharma, and Ganapathiyappa were among the first to organize these poor tenant farmers. Later, socialist leaders like Shanthaveri Gopalagowda organized these tenant farmers against landlords and campaigned for the abolition of the land lease system. When Devaraj Urs was elected as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, he passed mandates to abolish the land lease system. Under the popular slogan of Uluvavarige Bhoomi (Land for the tillers) he undertook land redistribution in favour of the poor tenant farmers. This provided them the land of the landlord in which they were practicing agriculture. This land redistribution was however confined to land that belonged only to the large landlords.
Devaraj Urs also implemented the Land Reforms Act applicable to all over Karnataka around the same time. However, the land redistribution was not applicable to all tenant farmers but only to the ones who had leased their lands from large landlords. The land reform legislation he undertook was unscientific and unrealistic. Hence, the poor landless labourers have not redistributed any land as per the land redistribution scheme.
In Karnataka, almost 60% of the landowners own less than 2 acres of land. These landowners practice agriculture to the extent that it provides for their own subsistence. However, large landowners who own larger lands practice agriculture by hiring agricultural labourers and pay wages to the extent of around 500 Rs per day. These landowners do not practice agriculture for growing food that can provide for their subsistence. Instead, they grow other cash crops including vegetables, ginger, turmeric, fruits, and flowers and are dependent on the others including the markets. A two-acre landowner is unable to grow enough for his stomach and provide for his family on a small farm. These poor farmers need at least 5 acres of Khushki (non-irrigated agricultural) land. Only then, can they be able to sustain their livelihood and can provide food for society on a small scale.
So, now the legislation has to be revised to allow poor farmers and labourers to own 3 more acres so that they can own up to 5 acres. If not, a large number of poor people are sure to migrate to towns in search of livelihoods as migrant workers. Successive governments for the past 70 years have been swallowing farmlands in the garb of road building and widening.
The land reforms law now being implemented by the government forces all the poor and small farmers to quit their livelihoods and migrate in search of livelihoods. Lands owned by the poor will fall into the hands of the wealthy or the corporates if this act gets implemented. Large companies extended staunch support for consolidated holdings. It is an ill-intended plan to hand over lands to big landlords or the corporate houses by luring the poor to sell off their lands.
Corporate companies will provide the best tools for agriculture to these rich peasants and will drastically bring down the need for labourers on the farms. All those who lose their land will be forced to leave the village and move to towns. The merchants and large corporations will push the big landlords to grow the corps from which these companies would benefit. This means that the companies turn these landlords into their own laborers or even puppets. Yeddyurappa’s plan is now to convert an agriculture-based country like India into America.
America is a country of enterprises. It is also a country that is majorly based on Industries. In America, only a few own lands measuring thousands of acres since many people do not get involved in agriculture. They sow their lands on power tillers. The seeds are sown by the use of helicopters. They also own and use grain weighing machines, seed dispersers, and dryers. A farm as large as 1000 acres is managed by a household.
It is not right to undertake an American experiment in an agriculture-based country like India. This would be deeply disgraceful for the country to beg for food stock from other nations. It is the duty of all the people to resist and prevent the implementation of such unreasonable land use in India.
MAKAAM has also denounced the Land Reforms Act. Read about here: https://gaurilankeshnews.com/mahila-kisan-adhikar-manch-rejects-karnataka-land-reforms-amendment-act/
Importantly, all the peasant organizations across India should come together and form a joint action committee. Everybody with a keen eye on the plight of India’s poorest farmers should denounce this move. It must be called out that, “This land reform through which the government is enabling the rich to buy land from the poor is inherently an anti-people move.” Against such anti-people measures, a nationwide Non-Cooperation Movement must be initiated. It is of importance that farmers’ organizations must be joined by all people who are concerned about the sovereignty of our country.