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27 April, 2008

Looking back on Kerala land reform

Kerala’s land reform is not the grand success that it is claimed to be. The domination of landlords weakened and tenants gained security, but the landless did not get land and productivity did not grow. Feudal land relations were eliminated, but agricultural output did not increase and there was no significant investment in the agriculture. Human development levels rose but there is no evidence to suggest that this was the result of investments in education and health brought about by land reform. Even a cursory look at the census data will bear out that the process that put the State at the top of the human development chart had begun long before land reform took place. Above all, women, Dalits and Adivasis remain outside the charmed circle of power-wielders.

Looking back, it appears the reform measure was drawn up without proper appreciation of the ongoing socio-economic changes.

These are some of the observations in the paper I presented at the three-day seminar on "Land Reform re-visited" organized by the C. Achutha Menon Foundation, Thiruvananthapuram, from April 24 to 26, 2008.

The text of the paper can be accessed here.

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