The agrarian structure in our country on the eve of independence, is characterised by semi-feudal landlordism on one side and almost landless labourers on the other.
Apart from larger disparities in land ownership, the significant aspect is causing concentration of land in few pockets of socially dominant section.
The prevailing massive poverty of the rural population as a serious limiting factor has been impeding the growth of modern industry.
The labourers, tenants and sub-tenants were forced to lead a pitiable life of slavery and deprivation. Keeping these facts in mind, we can say that land reforms have manifold significance in our country.
“Land reforms include reforms or improvements in the land tenure system as well as reforms in other institutions which are related to the land and its utilization such as consolidation of holdings, size of holdings, methods of farming and supply of agricultural credit etc.”-United Nations Organisation.
It can be made clear from the following:
1. Promotion of Incentive:
Land reforms are needed for promoting incentive to the actual tiller of the land for promotion of agricultural production. These reforms assure them that they will not be exploited and get full reward for their labour. It is felt that for raising production, supply of inputs like seed, manure and other implements are pre-requisite and it should be stepped up immediately. As majority of Indian farmers who have small size of holdings are unable to purchase these inputs in a required quantity.
This results in inefficient utilization of manpower and land. The need of the hour is that they should be encouraged to make the optimum utilization of his resources. Thus, it is only possible when he is assured for the security of tenure and granted ownership right on his holding. Obviously, the significance of land reforms automatically enlarges its scope.
2. Costless Method of Increasing Production:
It helps in raising agricultural production without involving much use of capital. It is only possible when the relations of the cultivator with land are improved. In other words, it means that if he cultivator is assured for security of tenure, fair rent and right of ownership and free transferability.
Moreover, he is assured that he is the master of all that he produces and there is no scope of any king of exploitation. That is why, land reform is called a costless method of raising production. This has special significance in less developed countries like India. In short, institutional change which involves no cost but at the same time, helps to create a climate wherein cultivator puts hard work and takes more and more interest for the promotion of agriculture.
3. Establishing Link between Government and farmers:
Land reforms can establish a direct link between Government and farmers by abolishing intermediaries. This will facilitate the government to implement plan for agricultural development in a smooth manner.
4. Planned Growth:
Land reforms will enable to bring about a close integration of agricultural economy with the planning process of the country. Such integration is only possible when cultivators will have a direct link with the state government. Eliminations of the heterogeneous and tenurial relations will result in some uniformity of the system throughout the country. Therefore, it smoothens the process of planning through authorities who find it easier to formulate and implement uniform policies.
5. Social Justice:
Land reforms are also considered essential as it provides social justice to millions of cultivators. The land policy that changes tenurial relations in favour of the actual tiller means that the cultivator/small farmer is assured of getting the fruits of their labour and equality of income and wealth. Furthermore, the consolidation of scattered holdings will help to raise the income of the cultivator.