Millennium Post
Opinion

Corporates are the new zamindars

As India witnessed a ‘long march’ by thousands of tribals, farmers and landless people for land reforms, P V Rajagopal, who led the movement, said a new form of zamindari is emerging in India with corporates acquiring huge chunks of land.

Zamindari, the pre-colonial practice of having landlords to collect tax from farmers, was abolished post independence in India.

Rajagopal, however, warned that with large areas of land being acquired by corporates, a fresh form of the medieval system may emerge.

‘The situation is very bad. Corporates have become the new zamindars and a few people are accumulating all the land,’ Rajagopal, founder of people’s movement Ekta Parishad, said in an interview on the phone from Agra where the members of the group were stationed.

‘Those who will actually till the land have nothing to their claim. Even the middle class cannot buy land in this country, forget about the poor. Adivasis have taken to violence, farmers are committing suicide. All this should end,’he added.

The march ended after Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh agreed to frame a national policy on land reforms within six months.

The Ekta Parishad, which led a year-long Jan Satyagrah march starting from Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India, on 2 October, 2011 – Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary – mobilised people across the country demanding land reforms. After covering 352 of India’s 640 districts, it concluded in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh on 2 October this year. From Gwalior, thousands started a 350-km-long march to Delhi. But it ended at Agra after the agreement with the government. Most of those on foot march were tribals, farmers, landless labourers and other marginalised sections demanding land rights.

Recounting the yatra, Rajagopal said they succeeded to a great extent in bringing together different castes and groups as well as ‘invisible groups’ like transgenders and nomads.

Describing the situation of landless farmers as poor, Rajagopal said without government intervention, the poor cannot get their share of land.

‘The rich are buying land for the next 10 generations. Without government intervention, land cannot reach the poor. All existing laws like the Land Ceiling Act and other acts are there. But when it comes to powerful people, these acts are overlooked,’ he said.

India has witnessed struggles on land issues since independence. The Maoist movement, which is currently one of the biggest security threats, is also directly linked to the land struggle.

As per estimates, over 270 laws relating to land reforms have been enacted since independence in 1947. [IANS]
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