You are on page 1of 10

#1: Congress Provincial Governments 1937

After the provincial elections in 1937, Congress formed government in

1. Madras
2. Bombay
3. Central Provinces
4. Orissa
5. Bihar
6. UP

Assam, North West Frontier Province

And they implemented certain land reforms in these provinces:

1. Enacted Restoration of Bakasht Land Act- to give back land to farmers who were
evicted between 1929-1937.
2. enacted Bihar Tenancy Act
3. Reduced the salami rates.
4. Abolished all increases in rent since 1911. As a result, rents were reduced by ~25%
5. gave under-ryots occupancy rights after twelve years of cultivating the land.
6. rents had to be reduced if soil degraded, owner didnt provide irrigation etc.
7. Existing arrears of rent reduced.
8. interest on rent-arrears reduced from 12.5 to 6.25%
9. Debt Relief act: Reduced interest rate on debts to 9%

10. Prohibited all illegal exactions. if landlord charged illegal dues, he could be jailed for 6
11. In sharecropping, landlords maximum share was kept at 9/20 part of the produce.
12. if tenant doesnt pay rent- he cannot be arrested, his property cannot be attached

Kisan leaders wanted Congress government to abolish zamindari and redistribute the land
among poors.

But the Congress Government in Bihar was backed by the zamindars

Therefore, zamindari abolition law couldnot be made.

Bihar Kisan Sabha resorted to militancy- use of Lathis and violence to prevent rent
payments, forcibly occupying Zamindari land etc. Congress government resorted to use
of police and section 144=> relations between Kisan Sabha and Congress deteriorated.

@Uttar Pradesh

The Congress leaders was more leftist than in Bihar. Hence laws/regulations were more

Reduced rents

Tenants of Awadhs and Agra were given hereditary occupancy. (Meaning Zamindar cant
evict familys farm if the father died.)

Rent of hereditary tenant can be changed only after 10 years.

Tenant cannot be arrested, if he doesnt pay rent.

Nazrana (forced gifts) and Begari (Forced labour) were abolished.


Governor did not give his assent to the Tenancy Bill even after two years of its passage.
Hence most reforms couldnt be implemented.


During Civil Disobedience movement (CDM) the British had attached lands of farmers
who did not pay Revenue

The congress Government restored the land back to those farmers

Forest Grazing fees were abolished.

40,000 bonded labour (Dubla/serfs) were liberated

Debt Relief act: Reduced interest rate on debts to 9%. Although it was opposed by
Lawyers who supported Congress. (Because lawyers earned a lot from debt related court

@Other Provinces
Passed: Tenancy act to reduced interest rate on arrears from 12.5 to 6% and provide
for free transfer of occupancy holdings.
Failed: bill to reduce rents in Zamindari areas. because governor didnt give assent.

Congress Socialist Party and Communists had setup peasant associations

(Krishak Sangathan)

organized a campaign towards amendment of the Malabar Tenancy Act.

Congress ministry passed law to give debt relief to farmers

agitations against Canal Tax

Hat Tola Movement: in north Bengal against a levy collected by the landlords
from peasants at Hat (weekly market).

Agitation against the Union Ministry dominated by landlords of western

Punjab for resettlement of land revenue and against increase in canal tax and
water rate.

Grazing fees reduced.







Debt Relief act: Reduced interest rate on debts to 6.25%

Committee under Revenue minister T.Prakasam, made recommendations to

reduce Zamindars rent by 75% (and thus virtually abolishing Zamindari).

CM Rajagopalachari planned to implement this reform, withou paying

Zamindars any compensation. But before a bill could be drafted, the ministry

laws regulating the activity of the moneylenders and providing debt relief.

Overall Limitations
1. Time limit: They were in power for barely 28 months. They had resigned in 1939. So,
long term reforms could not be carried out. Example: In Madras State CM
Rajagopalachari planned to reduce rents by 75%, abolish Zamindari without paying
Zamindars any compensation. But before a bill could be drafted on the, the ministry
2. Vote power: In Orissa the British governor refused assent to a bill that aimed to reduce
Zamindars income by 50-60%.
3. Appeasement: Had to maintain unity for anti-British struggle. so, could not afford to
annoy upper caste/rich farmers beyond a level. Congress ministries did not pursue
abolition of zamindari in UP and Bihar (despite resolutions from Congress PCCs in UP
and Bihar).
4. Power Limit: Under the Act of 1935, Provincial governments lacked the power to
abolish Zamindari, even if they wanted.
5. Creamy Layer: By and large only superior tenants benefited from these Acts/laws. The
subtenants/inferior tenants/agri.labourers were overlooked. May be because they did not
form vote-bank as Act of 1935 provided for a restricted franchise.

#2: Congress Resolutions 4farmers

@Karachi session, 1931

list of Fundamental Rights and Economic Programme for future India,
Drafted by Dr.Rajendra Prasad. It included following provisions for land reforms:
1. Reduction in agricultural rent or revenue paid by the peasantry
2. Farmers with uneconomic holdings, will be exempted from rent payment
3. Debt Relief for farmers. control of Usury
4. Serfdom/Bonded labour will be abolished.
5. Farmers and workers will have right to form unions to protect their interests.
6. Progressive income tax on agricultural income.

Limitation: Didnt include the demand to abolish Zamindari / Estates of landlords.

President: Sardar Patel. passed resolution for:
@Kisan Conference, 1935

zamindari abolition

peasant proprietorship without intermediaries

@Firozpur Session, 1936

thirteen point program for All India agrarian reforms

Reduction in rent and revenue,

exemption from rent on uneconomic holdings,

Reduce canal and irrigation rates

living wage for agriculture labors

recognize of peasant associations

introduce cooperative farming

In a way, this Firozpur sessions Agrarian reform program= repeating Karachi Sessions points +
some new demands from All India Kisan Sabhas manifesto.

@election manifesto,1937
1. The appalling poverty, unemployment and indebtedness of the peasantry is resulted from
antiquated and repressive land tenure and revenue systems.
2. We will give immediate relief to farmers for revenue, rent and debt burden.
3. Structural reform of the land tenure, rent and revenue systems

Other resolutions/Manifestos

National Planning Committee. Chairman: Nehru

Bombay Plan
Election manifesto by Congress Working Committee

All of above talked about:

1. abolish intermediaries between farmer and state (Zamindar, Jagirdar, Talukdar etc)
2. Cheap loans to solve the problem of rural indebtedness
3. Collective farming should be encouraged. Although collective farming did not gain much
attention because there was hardly any peasant mobilization for this.

1946 Provincial Election

An interim government headed by Nehru was formed at the Centre and the Congress
governments in the provinces

They set up committees to draw up bills for abolition of the zamindari system.

Rise of All India Kisan Sabha

1920 Awadh Kisan Sabha formed with support of Nehru and Ram Chandra.
1923 NG Ranga formed first Ryots association in Guntur, Andhra.

Bihar Kisan Sabha formed by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.

Akali leaders formed Punjab Riyasati Praja Mandal.


1929 Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha

1931 Krushak Sangha throughout Orissa
1935 South Indian federation of Peasants and agri.laborers with NG Ranga as Secretary.
Up to 1920, the peasant leaders were associated with the Congress. But later the rift widened
1. In Eastern UP, the Kisan groups wanted government to convert Sharecroppers
(Bargadars) into tenants. So they can get all legal protections available under Tenancy
2. But the Swarajist group did not want such reform. (due to pressure from Zamindar/rural
elite groups)
3. differences of opinion between the supporters of Non-Cooperation and those who
preferred constitutional agitation

4. In the princely states, Congress followed the policy of non-interferance and did not help
farmers against high Revenues.
5. In Ryotwari areas- Government itself collected taxes. So Gandhi would ask farmers to
stop paying rent. But in case of Zamindari areas, Gandhi would ask farmers to continue
paying rent to the Zamindars and Talukdars.
6. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, prominent Kisan leader from Bihar- was turning towards
leftist-militant type of agitation. He advocated use of Lathis (sticks) against Zamindars
and their goons. Hence Congress stopped supporting him.
As a result, by mid 30s, the peasant leaders and unions became disillusioned with Congress.
They felt a need to setup a Kisan Sabha at the national level, to coordinate the efforts of regional
Kisan Sabhas/associations.

1st Sept 1936: First All India Kisan Congress @Lucknow. All India Kisan Day was
celebrated on 1st September every year.

Swami Sahajanand Saraswati (of Bihar) as its President and N.G. Ranga (of Andhra) as
General Secretary.

1938: Became All India Kisan Sabha

Launched campaigns in Andra, Bihar and UP

started Kisan Bulletin, editor Indulal Yagnik.

Gave Kisan Manifesto:

Kisan Manifesto, 1936

1. Protect farmers for from economic exploitation,
2. 50% reduction in land Revenue
3. security of tenure for tenants,
4. reduction in interest rates charged by moneylenders
5. abolition of begar (forced labour)
6. reasonable wages for labourers,
7. promote cooperative farming

8. transfer uncultivated government land, and Zamindari lands to poor and landless farmers.

Limitation of All India Kisan Sabha

1. leadership was concentrated in the hands of Bhumihar and other rural elites
2. landless, SC, ST found no representation in its leadership
3. Kisan Sabha wanted abolition of Zamindari but not abolition of Sharecropping
4. As Swami Sahjanant turned towards militant methods of protest, the Congress ordered its
workers not to participate in any activities of Kisan Sabha.
5. Congress ministries in Provinces used section 144, police force to curtail the activities of
Kisan Sabha. (especially in UP, Bihar, Orissa and Madras)

Gandhis Views on Land Reforms

Land and all property is his who will work it, = similar to concept of land to the tiller.

During Non-cooperation movement

o he asked tenants and landlors to join and fight against the most powerful
zamindar- the British.
o In the Ryotwari regions (where British directly collected taxes), Gandhi asked
farmers to stop paying revenue.
o but in Zamindari areas, Gandhi did not ask farmers to stop paying rent. (Because
he did not want to antagonize those Zamindars/intermediaries). He explicitly
industructed UP farmers.We want to turn Zamindars into friends. Therefore
we many not withhold taxes from Government or rent from landlord.

During Civil Disobedience movement,

o he issued a manifesto to the Uttar Pradesh farmers asking them to pay only 50 per
cent of the legal rent.

During Gandhi-Irwin Pact:

Gandhis demand
Irwins response
wanted Irwin to return the land confiscated from farmers. And if such land was didnt agree

sold to third parties then original farmer be paid some compensation.

reduce land revenue in all areas

agreed for only

some areas.

In Early 30s to UP farmers, non-occupancy tenants should pay 8 anna rent to the
Zamindar and occupancy tenant should pay 12 anna rent to Zamindar. Let me warn you
against listening to any advice that you have no need to pay the zamindars any rent at

Quote: Peasants could seize the zamindars lands and, while there could be some
violence, but the zamindars could also cooperate by fleeing.

Quote: After Independence, the zamindars land would be taken by the state either
through their voluntary surrender or through legislation and then distributed to the
cultivators. BUT It would be fiscally impossible to compensate the landlords.

Justice Ranades Views on Land reforms

Once UPSC asked about Sir Tejbahadur Saprus views on Indian Nationalist. (2006) So similar
to thatWhat were Justice Ranades views on Land reforms?
1. Replace the existing semi-feudal agriculture with capitalist agriculture.
2. Transform rich peasants into capitalist farmers.
3. Transform tenants to independent proprietors subjected to low tax and cheap loans.
4. Quote: A complete divorce from land of those who cultivate it is a national evil, and no
less an evil is it to find one dead level of small farmers all over the land. A mixed
constitution of rural society is necessary to secure the stability and progress of the
5. Post-independence, by and large same model was adopted by Government: replace
landlordism and give protection to small farmers.
6. Through Poona Sarvajanik Sabha: Supported Deccan riots and campaign against
moneylenders in Maharashtra