SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND LAND REFORMS IN INDIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY
Author: Bhaskar Mishra
Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is about the big picture, about improving the lives of everyone and everywhere. Reforms are necessary in the society and world as time passes. With a revolving world we have to maintain the pace for the change and improvement as the times are uncertain. Evolving technology and rapid growth of business, industry and services need compatible laws to enhance their forms at best. We must keep up with changes to live a compatible lifestyle. There are many essential factors right now in the world that are in need of reforms, we need reforms to grow in the direction of prosperity and efficiency. Land is one such essential commodity which is highly valuable and also limited. It's the foundation of foundations, everything we have or we need is linked to it. We drive on it, we walk on it, we thrive on it and we survive on it. Therefore, it is necessary to preserve this valuable resource and utilize it in a way which is smart and sustainable. Following proper reforms of sustainable development we can keep it healthy for generations to come.
Land is considered as an important assest for the economy development in agricultural economies. Even with access to best available arable land, the majority of the rural population are having a hard time feeding themselves and their families. Yet ironically, world hunger has been reduced in the countryside. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that land-poor and landless households in rural areas account for 80% of the people who are chronically hungry in the world today. Land reform here defined as the reallocation of rights to establish a more equitable distribution of farmland can be a powerful strategy for promoting both economic development and environmental quality. Comparing to large scale farmers, the small scale farmers tend to grow more output across the globe. Furthermore, farmers with small families hold secure land rights, they tend to be better environment friendly, enhancing soil fertility, improving and protecting water quality and biodiversity. Therefore, providing equitable access to land can be the foundation for sustainable rural development.
GOAL 15: LIFE ON LAND
Goal 15 ‘Life on Land’ advises to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, eradicate desertification of agricultural land, sustainably manage forest areas, reverse land degradation and halt the loss of biodiversity.
● By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
● By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
● By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.
● By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.
● Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
● Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed
● Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products
● By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species
● By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
● Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
● Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation.
● Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities.
SITUATION IN INDIA
Presently, land and property values in urban India are being characterised by steady increase and speculation in real estate. The recent estimation revealed that, to buy a 800sq.ft house at the prevailing average rate in metropiltan cities, they should work for 100 years. For real estate housing markets in Hong Kong, London, Paris and Tokyo,this inequality gap is an average of 62–67 years. As such, a very limited proportion of India's population can access the sales market. It is therefore becoming increasingly ‘difficult for the vast majority of urban residents to obtain and retain adequate and affordable land and housing’.In viewpoint of such developments, some key issues need consideration.
1. The policy discourse on affordable housing in urban areas currently dominates the broader discussion on affordable land. There is a need to expand this discourse and addressland affordability as a larger concept within policy discussions, as it not only has a crucial impact on affordable housing but has implications on future spatial development such as infrastructure and environment, service provisioning,etc.
2. The actual physical availability of land within urban areas requires consideration. Opening up of existing stock and expansion is to promote the greater accesss to land and proper at affordable areas. Dysfunctional Land markets, combined with planning failures, and accompanied by the urban sprawl within the larger political economy of land governance, has created a situation where there is pressure on the available limited land is increasing along with growing issues of regulating the usage of land, as well as threatening continued ecological sustainability. The intensity of land use, by whom and in what manner remains an important indicator. For instance, the ratio of the land consumption rate to the population growth rate is one of the SDG indicators to measure the sustainable development of cities which is related to the previous issue, is the significance of the manner in which ‘ownership and control over land’ is regulated, recognised and recorded. Particular rights (ranging from ownership to leasehold, formal to informal) and their allied claims are closely linked to affordable and accessible land and property. Such rights and claims will have to be suitably negotiated by involving various political stakeholders and actors.
3. The need to record these claims to land through systemic improvements in land records remains a pressing one. Interestingly, under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act of 2013, the definition of ‘affected family’ includes not only landowners but also those whose primary livelihoods stand affected, including agricultural labourers, tenants, usufruct rights holders, sharecroppers, artisans and also urban dwellers living for the last three years, whose primary livelihoods are affected by the acquisition of land. The act also provides that if land is acquired for the purposes of urbanisation, developed land will be reserved for and offered to project affected families.
LAND REFORMS ACROSS THE GLOBE
Various number of dimensions has taken place in Land reforms. In this next section we will discuss the various points where land is connected with legal, social and other important elements present in the society, we will also look at how the similar concepts are exercised across the globe in vivid ways:
Rights: Property rights are a ‘bundle of logs,’ not all of which necessarily belong to the same section.
For instance, a tenant farmer may hold an ‘occupancy right’ to cultivate the land in return for payment of rent, while the landlord has the right to sell the land. Reforms that strengthen the rights of tenants, for example, by prohibiting arbitrary evictions or putting a ceiling on rents, are less far-reaching than ‘land-to-the-tiller’ reforms that expropriate landlords and transfer land titles to the tenants.
Security: Property rights are never perfectly secure. In many times and places, small farmers have been dispossessed by legal chicanery or outright force. In Land reforms, the landowners can enjoy and can also access to subsidies and various advantages provided by the government. Through this reform, there are also kept check on rights of farmers by providing non saleable lands to farmers.
For instance, after the 1910 revolution in Mexico, ownership of roughly half the country’s farmland was vested in communities called ejidos, in which families hold use rights to individual plots as long as they continue to till them.
Structure: Through the said land reforms, the new agrarian structure has established by the government. It was done by relying on family farms, state farms or also on small and large scale collectives. Strategies shift over time.
For instance, the Chinese revolution initially redistributed land to individual families, then organized them into cooperatives and later into large communes; but a generation later, use rights were reallocated to households. In the same way, to have a political base, the Sandinista government in Nicaragua has created state farms on large holdings taken away from the former dictator and estate owners but later they distubuted the titles to the peasants.
Egalitarianism: it is a matter of degree, the extent to which land reforms yield a more egalitarian agrarian structure is.
For instance, during British rule in India, a series of tenancy reforms in Bengal redistributed rights from large landlords to the upper stratum of the peasantry, while doing little to expand the land rights of the poor. There was a strong egalitarian impacts due to postwar land reforms in East Asia. The same is discussed in next section.
Gender: Land reform can also create inconsistency between men and women.
For instance, In El Salvador, a U.S.-backed reform in the 1980s that transferred titles from landlord to tenants actually had the effect of worsening women’s position who were already inferior: women comprised only 10% of the beneficiaries, but they accounted for 36% of those whose lands were expropriated, the latter being mostly ‘elderly widows and single women who usually rented it out lands for their benefits, they will not go directly to work. In contrast, Colombia’s land redistribution program in the late 1990s improved women’s land rights by mandating joint titles for couples instead of exclusive titles for male household ‘heads.’ Moreover, women in Colombia received nearly one-third of the land titles that were distributed to individuals rather than couples.
Compensation: Land reforms also vary in their treatment of those whose land rights are redistributed to others.
For instance, as in the Chinese revolution, land simply is confiscated without compensation. In others, Large landowners were compensated with market value at that time, this was a land reform under Guatemala in the year 1954. As Griffin Khan and Ickowitz(2002,279) termed as ‘high degree of land confiscation’ to the redistributive land reforms.
Macro economic environment: There was a tremendous difference made by the land reform between lives of the rural poor not by panacea for rural poverty. In the absence of broader macro economic policies that support agriculture in general, and small-scale producers. In particular, land reform alone will not bring substantial income gains to the poor. Indeed, if the macro economic context is quite adverse to agriculture.
For instance, if exchange rate overvaluation and trade policies make agricultural imports so cheap that local growers cannot compete, then to encourage the poor to seek to earn to live.
Process: In order to achieve an extreme social transformation there’s a need for genuine land reform. There was two initiatives namely ‘top-down and ‘bottom-up’ to the land reforms. The former will be like that of General Douglas Mac Arthur’s administration had in postwar in Japan. And the later one was a movements like today’s Landless Worker’s Movement in Brazil along with the Chinese revolution. But a feature that all successful land reforms share in common is ‘a transformation in the balance of power within the rural community and in society at large’. Attempts to implement land reforms without changing the balance of power, what Sobhan calls ‘inegalitarian reforms without social transition’ at best yield only modest results.
We have to Recognise the importance of institutions that provide security of property rights and comparatively equal access to economic resources to a broad cross-section of society has revived interest in the potential of asset redistribution, including land reforms. Empirical analysis of the impact of such policies is barely sufficient or adequate and often contradictory. The use panel household data from India, together with state-level variation in the land reform implementation, to address some of the deficiencies of earlier studies. The recent results indicated that, because of the land reforms brought there has been a significant and positive impact on income growth and also in accumulating human and physical capital. It has been observed by drawing policy implications that the impact of land reform has been declining over time.
Why do we need sustainable development? What purpose does it serve in the world?..
To answer this question first we must ask ourselves one thing, that is can we use something over and over again forever..? Sustainable development ensures three utmost important things, first is the Social progress, second is the Economic development and third health of climate/environment. We must fix what needs fixing and we must stop what harms the things due to its course. Although, just because we are experiencing things that announce themselves as in need of a repair doesn't mean that you right then and there should take matters into your own hands. We must make sure that proper rules and regulations are being followed and are being done by the appropriate authorities. Suppose you want to spend ten minutes making room better, what would you have to do?.. at this moment you have to ask yourself, not like a command but a genuine question and things will start popping out in the room that you can fix. "A hundred adjustments to your broader domain of being can help avoid a hundred upcoming problems”.
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