Experts seek land ceiling like Bengal (The Telegraph (Calcutta))
"The Centre has been asked to impose the Bengal model of land distribution across the country by a panel it appointed to suggest land reforms.
"The non-binding advice, which recommends rural land ceilings more stringent than those in Bengal, comes at a time the [CPM-led] Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has tried to raise those limits to promote industry but seen its efforts stalled. [...]
"In Bengal, the ceiling in non-irrigated areas is 17 acres and in irrigated areas, 12 acres. Left-ruled Bengal, Kerala and Tripura are the only states with rural land ceilings, the limit for irrigated land in Kerala being 15 acres. Some other states have tried and failed to enact land ceilings.
"So, although the report on 'State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms' was handed in last January, the Centre has been unwilling to reveal its contents given their controversial nature."
anti-caste: The report of the government-appointed panel mentioned above, which is available online here in full, makes interesting reading, with frank and well supported analyses of the near-total failure of capitalist India to solve the land question. And it's only getting dramatically worse, with the current drive to separate poor and middle peasants, landless laborers (who are overwhelmingly untouchable), and tribals from what meager resources they had claim to on behalf of native and foreign-based capital. That shouldn't be news to the government that commissioned the report, since, as documented there, it's the one facilitating it. Liberal reformers regret the state taking on this role; Marxists know it's only doing its job. It's a dirty job, too: just look at Operation Green Hunt.
Excerpts below from the report's fourth chapter, Alienation of Tribal and Dalits Lands (with emphasis added by us throughout):
"Land and Social Hierarchy - Dalits and Adivasis in India
"Land is not merely an important economic asset, its ownership is also socially valued, sought and denied. In rural societies, ownership of land was and to a large extent is still coterminus with social status. Hence, its unequal distribution reflects both prevailing social stratification and also helps maintain the hierarchical structure of the society. In contrast, fair distribution of land strikes directly at the roots of an unequal social order and skewed power relations, and frees the marginalized from the clutches of perpetual bondage, for want of a sustainable livelihood. The landless, whose only remaining asset is their labour, are effectively separated from the other means of production, namely land, and remain dependent on large land holders for their survival. Powerful landlords have always opposed land reforms, fearing not only loss of control of assets, but also their dominant position in society, which straddles the economic and the political realms. The denial of access to land, thereby, functions both as a means of exclusion as also a mechanism of bondage. [...]
"The pattern of land distribution in India, therefore, reflects the existing socioeconomic hierarchy. While large landowners invariably belong to the upper castes, the cultivators belong to the middle castes, and the agricultural workers are largely dalits and tribals. [...T]he data of absolute landless families proves that the feudal society is firmly anchored in large parts of India, notwithstanding claims to the contrary.
"Tribal India – Land and People
"The tribal people, referred to in the law and constitution, considered the descendents of the original inhabitants, are largely located in the hilly tracts of Central and North Eastern India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. [...] Earlier the temples of modern India reduced millions of tribal people to ecological refugees, now the minerals seen as the building blocks of modern India put the tribal people at risk of losing their land through acquisition and further disruption of their societies and economies. [...] Left without an alternative, either in the government or non government organizations, and left to a harsh fate of unmitigated exploitation, the tribal people initially gave the Naxalites succor and now have become their base. Most tribal areas in Central India are the abode to the naxalites, whose presence is a response both to past and future land alienation, the failure of the government to live up to its constitutional mandate and the withdrawal of the state from its responsibility to protect the tribal realm. [...]
"The data gathered from the village studies and from the records of the various governments all point out to the inescapable conclusion that alienation of tribal land continues unabated and alienation of land has actually accelerated in areas where irrigation and modernization of agriculture are making rapid strides and roadways, industrialization and urbanization is enveloping larger areas in the towns and cities. Four apparent forms of tribal land alienation are listed below. [...]
"Conclusion - The Biggest Grab of Tribal Lands after Columbus
"A civil war like situation has gripped the southern districts of Bastar, Dantewara and Bijapur in Chhattishgarh. The contestants are the armed squads of tribal men and women of the erstwhile Peoples War Group now known as the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on the one side and the armed tribal fighters of the Salva Judum created and encouraged by the government and supported with the firepower and organization of the central police forces. This open declared war will go down as the biggest land grab ever, if it plays out as per the script. The drama being scripted by Tata Steel and Essar Steel who wanted 7 villages or thereabouts, each to mine the richest lode of iron ore available in India.
"There was initial resistance to land acquisition and displacement from the tribals. The state withdrew its plans under fierce resistance. An argument put forward was ‘you don’t play foul with the Murias [a tribal group]’, it’s a matter of life and death and Murias don’t fear death. A new approach was necessary if the rich lodes of iron ore are to be mined.
"The new approach came about with the Salva Judum, euphemistically meaning peace hunt. Ironically the Salva Judum was led by Mahendra Karma, elected on a Congress ticket and the Leader of the Opposition and supported wholeheartedly by the BJP-led government. The Salva Judum was headed and peopled by the Murias, some of them erstwhile cadre and local leaders of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Behind them are the traders, contractors and miners waiting for a successful result of their strategy. The first financiers of the Salva Judum were Tata and the Essar in the quest for ‘peace’. The first onslaught of the Salva Judum was on Muria villagers who still owed allegiance to the Communist Party of India (Maoist). It turned out to be an open war between brothers. 640 villages as per official statistics were laid bare, burnt to the ground and emptied with the force of the gun and the blessings of the state. 350,000 tribals, half the total population of Dantewada district are displaced, their womenfolk raped, their daughters killed, and their youth maimed. Those who could not escape into the jungle were herded together into refugee camps run and managed by the Salva Judum. Others continue to hide in the forest or have migrated to the nearby tribal tracts in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
"640 villages are empty. Villages sitting on tons of iron ore are effectively de-peopled and available for the highest bidder. The latest information that is being circulated is that both Essar Steel and Tata Steel are willing to take over the empty landscape and manage the mines."
‘The biggest land grab after Columbus’ (Hindustan Times, December 4, 2009):
"It seems no coincidence that India’s mining heartland is also the Maoist heartland.
"'If you map the forest wealth, the mineral and the poverty of India, it’s a complete match,' said Sunita Narain, head of the Centre of Science and Environment."
And see anti-caste: OPERATION GREEN HUNT: INDIA’S DIRTY WAR ON TRIBALS AND LEFTISTS.