Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar gave important ideas to the country and agricultural reforms were one of them. It was the responsibility of the ruling leaders to implement his suggestions. Unfortunately, this has not happened so far. Had that happened, there would have been no mass agitations against the Government from time to time. One such movement has been going on since November 26, 2020; lakhs of farmers on the borders of Delhi are continuously agitating.
The peasant movements have been taking place since British rule. During the British rule, Ryotwari system was in vogue, in which the landholders paid the tax to the government. The landholder was evicted from the land for not paying the tax. The system was first introduced in 1792 in Madras presidency. Capitalist ideology and utilitarian ideology were mainly responsible for this system.
In this context, when the Government introduced an Amendment Bill to give Ryotwari land to the big landowners, Dr Ambedkar was the first to oppose it. He said that if land ownership continues to increase like this, one day it will destroy the country. Dr Ambedkar's agricultural ideas were published in 1918 in an article titled “Small Holdings in India and Their Remedies.” Based on this, the Small Farmers Relief Bill was introduced in the Bombay Legislature on October 10, 1928. Dr Ambedkar advised adopting cooperative agriculture in general areas.
Khoti practice was prevalent in Maharashtra, which contained middlemen, also known as khots. The small farmers who usually had land were not their owners. Babasaheb Ambedkar also introduced a bill in the Bombay Assembly in 1937 to eradicate this system and his efforts gave the farmers their due. Babasaheb wanted the nationalization of land, education, insurance industry, banks, etc. Even in 1954, Babasaheb had raised his voice in Parliament for the nationalization of land, but the then Government did not listen to him.
Views of Babasaheb on farming, farmers and agricultural economy are mainly focused on land reforms. According to him, agricultural industries should be under the control of the Government. The land acquired by the Government should be divided into standard size and distributed as lease to the villagers for cultivation.
We do not pay heed to Babasaheb's suggestions to solve the problems related to farmers, which leads to deteriorating condition of the annadata day by day. The government always gives stress for debt waiver to the farmers, but according to Babasaheb, it is a very small component, the other aspect is much more important.
(Writer is retired LIC Manager and freelance writer on Ambedkarite movement)