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What were Dr Ambedkar's thoughts on agriculture and land rights?

03:51 PM May 29, 2023 IST | Ground report
what were dr ambedkar s thoughts on agriculture and land rights

Vikas Meshram | What were Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's thoughts on agriculture, let's understand in this article. We all know that in the past when a king pleased a person or a minister and gave villages in a jagir as a reward. Hence, the rewardee becames a jagirdar, a feudal lord, or a zamindar. But, the Brahmins were upper class. Also, Dalit Magas succeeded in taking over some small agricultural lands.

Land revenue system

The British government had a ryotwari system in which the landlord was responsible for paying rent to the government. If he did not pay the rent, the owner would have been evicted from the land. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself opposed it when the government introduced an amendment bill to give ryotwari lands to big zamindars. He had said that one day the country will be ruined if the ownership of land continues to increase like this. But, the government did not agree to that.


Maharashtra also had the Khoti system. In Ryotwadis farmers paid taxes directly to the government, but as per the Khoti system, there were middlemen, also known as Khots. They were free to do anything to collect taxes from the peasants. They used to torture the peasants a lot and sometimes evicted them from the land. For this, Babasaheb Ambedkar himself introduced a bill to abolish the Khoti system in the Bombay Legislative Assembly in 1937. And, through Ambedkar's efforts, the khoti system ended and the farmers got their rights.

Read more: To help farmers, state govt pushes agriculture model by B R Ambedkar


Cooperative farming

In 1927, the British government presented a bill in the Bombay Legislative Assembly to increase the agricultural land of small farmers and transfer it to zamindars. Babasaheb Ambedkar protested that agriculture is productive and unproductive depending on its size and not on the labor and capital of the farmer. He said that the problem will not be solved by increasing the size of agriculture. But, this problem can be solved by intensive farming. That is why he advised that cooperative farming should be adopted in general areas. Babasaheb gave the example of adopting cooperative farming in some parts of Italy, France, and England.


Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar suggested the way of cooperative farming for the development of agriculture in India. Dr Ambedkar wrote an article titled 'Small Holdings in India and Their Remedies' in 1918. The article presented the problems of landholding farmers in scattered areas of India. He said that scattered smallholder farmers are unable to get the expected returns from agriculture due to a lack of adequate capital and resources. Hence, the need for reforms for the development of the agriculture sector in India, the government should provide resources and capital for agricultural activities, his article stated. He explained the nature of collective farming. Here, he demanded the nationalization of lands.


Today's reality

Today, more than 50% of India's population is engaged in agriculture-related work. In such a situation, handing over Indian agriculture to corporate means leading India to a new slavery. If there is any solution to this crisis, it was suggested by Babasaheb Ambedkar. Provision of capital and resources by the state and promotion of collective farming. For that honest land reform can be the first step in this direction.


It was Babasaheb Ambedkar himself in 1946 in a statement to the Constituent Assembly demanding the nationalization of land. And, the statement is still available today under the title "States and Minorities". They wanted the nationalization of land, education, the insurance industry, banks, etc. He wanted there to be no zamindars, tenants, and landless.

Read more: An Evaluation of Dr. Ambedkar’s Economic Thought on Agriculture in the context of Globalization


Even in 1954, Babasaheb raised his voice during the debate in parliament for the nationalization of land. But, Congress did not listen to him, as the power/authority of India was in the hands of kings, nawabs, and landlords. And, these positions were headed by a Brahmin who wanted to maintain Brahmin/Savarna supremacy. Babasaheb was as serious about the land issue as he was about other issues that pervaded India. To solve the problems of farmers, Babasaheb also wrote a research paper called 'Small Holdings in India'. Furthermore, this research paper is a good solution to today's worsening agricultural problem. Hence, it should be read by people of today.

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