18/10/08

the case of the stolen land

a few days ago, i'd wandered into a discussion on singur (thanks to abi) at rahul siddharthan's blog. rahul had a few questions, and among them i found this one interesting:
Why didn't the Tatas (and others who extol the virtues of the free market) acquire their land on the open market?
yes, why didn't they go to the open market? that question represents insouciance of a degree, let's say, that's disturbing. if land was so freely available in the open market (or wherever), what the f&&* are the naxalites doing in the jungles? oh yes, of course, they don't have the money to buy the land. so why don't the more fortunate citizens of this country donate whatever little they can to a fund, say, the prime minister's relief fund, and ask the indian government to finance the naxalites?

that'd require a huge pile of money. how much? let's say there are 20 crore families in india and around 13 crore of them live in the villages. by most accounts, more than 40% of them are landless- say 5.2 crore families. even if the government paid only rs.1 lakh per acre it'd require 5,20,000 crores to buy up enough land to distribute at least one acre each to those 5.2 crore families. considering not even 13 lakh per acre was considered a fair rate in singur, you could say the government would need much more money to pay fair rates to the sellers. seems like a bad idea?

why doesn't the government just go ahead and mop up the excess land, instead? without paying any fair compensation? as of 1995-96, around 20% of land owners in rural india owned around 64% of all available agricultural land. and the landless represented around 43% of the rural population. you could say the top 20% of land owners had cornered all the landless poor's share of farmland (and more).

so, why didn't the government just mop up that excess land and distribute it among the landless? that is exactly what all progressive governments in india have been trying to do for the last sixty years- scouring the land for the land, which you and i know is easily available in the open market. but why can't the government find it?

could it have been stolen? 44% and more of all cultivable land in india?

2 comments:

Praada said...

Maybe we can find some here http://www.ibnlive.com/news/devils-advocate-ysr-reddy/33865-3-p4.html

Praada

kuffir said...

yes, in there and a million other places. thanks for the link praveen.

 
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