Daily Answer Writing And Mentorship Program


Q: Discuss the challenges faced in implementing the Zamindari abolition policy in India. How successful was it in its objective of land distribution? (15         Marks, 250 Words)

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Even before independence it was understood that exploitation by zamindars is the main cause of stagnation in India’s agriculture which in turn was the main reason behind stagnation in Agri-growth. So, some states had passed laws to abolish the zamindari system, but the primary work related to this was done during the first five-year plan.



  • Official documents claimed that intermediaries were completely abolished by the end of the First Plan excepting a few small pockets in some areas.
  • It is estimated that in all 173 million acres of land was acquired from the intermediaries and, consequently, about 2 crore tenants were brought into direct relationship with the state.



  • Challenges:
  • Delays: Due to delay in making of laws (for e.g. UP Zamindari Abolition act, took 4.5 years) and then due to Zamindar’s challenging it in court.
  • Flaws in legislations:
  • The “Personal Cultivation” provision was misused. Zamindars could obtain land for ‘personal cultivation’ upto a ceiling limit. The zamindars could even evict tenants for the purpose.
  • “Ceilings were very high” -> very few zamindars were affected.
  • Transfer of land to family members: Flaws in the legislation have also enabled them to transfer their land to other members of their families and thus escape the ceiling law.
  • Zamindari only changed its ‘garb’: The previous zamindars acquired large areas for personal cultivation on which cultivation is done with the help of hired agricultural labor. They are now designated as ‘big landowners’ and along with rich peasantry, have formed “a new and dominant class of rural capitalist”.


  • Positives
  • Most of the states had passed zamindari abolition law by the end of the first five-year plan. This perhaps reflected on the popular sentiments against zamindars and their exploitative practices.
  • Exploitation and oppression of tenants and actual tillers of the soil declined steeply, and the feudal rural structure crumbled.
  • Reforms led to skimming of great absentee landlords.
  • Land reforms measures in Kerala (1959) and West Bengal (1967) are particularly significant.
  • In Kerala, the government declared eviction illegal, and sharecroppers were granted the right to purchase land. They were not allowed to retain more than 10 acres of land.
  • The United Front Government of West Bengal acted decisively in favor of the bargardars and agricultural workers and against landlords and rich farmers.


Overall, while the policy marked an important step towards reducing economic inequality and rural poverty, its implementation was marred by several challenges, and its success was uneven across the country. For the policy to achieve its objectives fully, these challenges needed to be, and still need to be, addressed more effectively.