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Land and Labour in India DANIEL AND ALICE THORNER
BOMBAY . CALCUTTA . NEW DELHI . MADRAS LUCKNOW . BANGALORE . LONDON . NEW YORK
DANIEL AND ALICE THORNER
Edition 1962 Reprinted 1965
PRINTED IN INDIA BY C. L. BHARGAVA AT G. W. LAWRIE & CO., LUCKNOW AND PUBLISHED BY P.S. JAYASINGHE, ASIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, BOMBAY
TO THE MEMORY OF
Samuel Gaines 1890-1960 FATHER AND FRIEND
PREFACE all of the articles which make up this book were written in Bombay and Delhi between 1952 and 1960. They reflect a number o f lines of study into which my wife and I were drawn whilst enquiring into the relations between agrarian structure and agricultural production in India. Of the four papers presented under “ Land and Labour”, the first and second are informal descriptions of the concentration of economic power in Indian villages today. The third deals with the terms of agricultural employment, and the fourth sets out a tentative scheme of agrarian regions. Five primarily historical articles are grouped under “ Trends”. The section opens with a sketch of India’s economic evolution over the past two centuries. It goes on to treat changes since the 1880’s in working force structure, national income, and the level of agri cultural output; and concludes by questioning the imminence of a food crisis. Finally, the papers gathered together under “ Censuses and Sample Surveys” assess critically four important bodies of statistical data bearing on the current agrarian situation: the Popula tion Census of 1951, the Census of Landholding, the Agricultural Labour Enquiry, and the Rural Credit Survey. The articles are reproduced in this book in the form in which they first appeared. We thank the original publishers for permission to reprint. Details of prior publication are given in a footnote at the beginning o f each chapter. Some o f the articles on which my wife and I have worked during the past decade have been issued under her signature, some under mine, and others jointly. In nearly every case, however, both of us have taken a hand, whether in planning, drafting, or editing. We are accordingly issuing this selection of papers under our joint signature. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the support which we have received for our research. Our interest in the analysis of the rural working force was stimulated by Professor Charles A. Myers of the Mas sachusetts Institute o f Technology. The articles on the Census of 1951 and on the Agricultural Labour Enquiry, reprinted as Chapters X and XIII, were prepared under the auspices of the Inter-University Study of Labour Problems in Economic Development as background P r a c t ic a l l y
material for Professor Myers’ book, Industrial Relations in India. After our critique of the agrarian data of the Census of 1951, Professor P. C. Mahalanobis, F.R.S., Director of the Indian Statis tical Institute, invited Mrs. Thorner and myself to make some constructive suggestions for the economic aspects of the 1961 Census of India. Professor Mahalanobis graciously arranged for us to carry out this welcome assignment in the hospitable setting provided by Shri M. A. Telang, Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Branch of the Institute. I may mention the two major studies em bodying the fruits of the Census Project. A paper by Mrs. Thorner entitled “ Working Force Size and Occupational Distribution in India, 1950-55” is scheduled to appear in Sankhya, The Indian Journal o f Statistics (Calcutta). Our joint monograph, The Working Force in India, 1881-1951, was issued in cyclostyled form in 1960 by the Bombay Branch o f the Indian Statistical Institute; we are now revising it for publication. I am most grateful to the Research Center in Economic Develop ment and Cultural Change of the University of Chicago for research fellowships in the academic years 1958-59 and 1959-60. Mrs. Thorner and I are both deeply indebted to the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Vie Section, Sciences Economiques et Sociales, from which we have received benevolent support over the past three years, and with which we feel honoured to be associated. DANIEL THORNER
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Sixieme Section Sorbonne, Paris 15 January 1961
CONTENTS LAND A N D LABOUR I. II.
T h e A g r a r ia n P r o b lem T he W eak
I n d ia T o d a y
St r o n g
E m pl o y e r -L a b o u r e r R e l a t io n s h ip s
A g r a r ia n R eg io n s
Sarda C a nal in
A g r ic u l t u r e
14 21 39
TRENDS (V .
E m ergence
“ D e -I n d u s t r ia l iz a t io n ”
VII. VIII. IX .
I n d ia n E co n o m y , 1760-1960
L o n g -t er m T r en d s P l o u g h in g
I n d ia , 1881-1931
O u tput
P lan U nder
E l u siv e A g r ic u l t u r a l O u t p u t F ig u r e s
CENSUSES A N D SAMPLE SURVEYS X. X I.
XII. XIII. X IV .
A g r a r ia n R e v o l u t io n b y C ensu s R e d e f in it io n E c o n o m ic C o n c e p t s T h e F a te
in t h e
C ensu s
C ensu s
I n d ia , 1951
L a n d h o l d in g
T h e A g r ic u l t u r a l L a b o u r E n q u ir y : R e fle c t io n s o n C o n c e p t s a n d M e th o d s
T h e A l l - I n d ia R u r a l C r e d it S u r v ey V ie w e d S c ie n t if ic E n q u ir y
T h e R u r a l C r e d it S u r v ey : A P o stsc r ipt
LAND AND LABOUR
THE AGRARIAN PROBLEM IN INDIA TODAY* T h e r e has been an immense and unf>r^ef.thehousehold (or whoever is the managing member) deems it to be. No attempt should be made to make a detailed calculation o f this share. All that has to be as certained is whether (in the opinion o f the head of the household or of the managing member) the member concerned is entitled to a share which would be sufficient to cover the cost of his own maintenance___ If the answer is ‘yes’, he is self-supporting. If the answer is ‘n o ’, he is an earning dependent.” The same considera tions were to hold, the instructions further stated, for women or children who took an active part in agricultural operations. These instructions, in effect, presumejthat_the. head _ of each household can makeja,speedy and reasonably reliable calculation o f the following:
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
the total income of his household; the share of that income rightly attributable to himself alone; the shares attributable to each of the other members; the amount of income necessary to sustain himself alone; the amount necessary in each case to sustain the other members of his household; the relation between the shares of income attributable to each member and the amount necessary in each case to sustain the given member. These are calculations which only the tiniest minority of Indian families would be in a position to make, even if they desired to make them. The overwhelming mass_of_India’sJiouseholds~simply do not live,-feel,-act-or-thmkin~such.terms. As life is usually carried on, each household has a line of work which is its chief occupation. Most members of the household take part in that work as required. Concurrently, or perhaps only in the slack season, there may be another line of work for the household. Here again, several house hold members may participate. Besides the economic work, there are the household’s domestic duties, carried out primarily by the women and children. The fruits of household work appear in one or more of the following forms: articles that can be exchanged or sold, harvests, receipts in kind, receipts in cash, perhaps even receipt of gifts. The household normally has no accounts. There is no. common standard by which anyone can readily measure, either the vatuejpf the household’s output”-. or the magnitude of the contributionof any household member to that output. In such a context to ask who is, and who is not, a “ self-supporting person” is to force a fiction on the household. The question itself is so novel that it is doubtful whether its meaning or implications can be readily grasped. Even if it were understood, there would usually be no objective basis for a reply. Furthermore, even in those limited number of cases where a reply might be possible, that reply might not be factually correct. Too many prestige elements are likely to be involved. In some areas the father, no matter how aged and inactive, may feel that he must return himself as the one and only self supporting person. All others would then be given as his dependents. In some cases grown sons working full-time might even be recorded as “ non-earning dependents” . In other areas the adult males feel
ECONOMIC CONCEPTS IN THE CENSUS OF INDIA
that, as a matter o f pride (izzat), they must say — whatever may be the facts of the case — that their women do not work in other than domestic duties. In the last analysis, the 1951 Census instructions told the enumera tor tojfalLback_o_nJhe_H.opinion^of--the-lieadof the ^household. What happened when the enumerators made a conscientious effort to elicit that opinion may be illustrated by the case of Madhya Pradesh. In his Census Report for that State the Commissioner observes, in the case of village families working jointly: Although the instructions were clear that no detailed inquiry was necessary about the income of individuals in such cases and the word of the head of the household was to be taken for granted, the tragedy was that the innocent village folks and their heads of households had no ‘word ’ to offer on the subject to the Enumera tor^ who had eventually to sit down quietly with them and had actually to estimate - the income of different members after prolonged discussions to ascertain whether a particular member was ‘an earning dependent’ or a ‘self-supporting person’ within the meaning of the Census definition and instructions.1 According to the Census o f 1951, self-supporting persons might have, in addition to their “ principal means of livelihood”, another source of income. This the Census termed their “ secondary means of livelihood”. The distinction between principal and secondary means o f livelihood was again a matter calling for budget analysis on an individual basis. The instructions stated that if a self-support ing person had more than one means of livelihood, “ that which provides the greatest income is recorded under question 10 as the ‘Principal Means of Livelihood’ and the next under question 11 as the ‘Secondary Means of Livelihood’ ” . Like “ principal means of livelihood”, as discussed above, the concept, “ secondary means of livelihood ”, lumped work, occupation and earning together with mere receipt of income. Besides its use in relation to “ self-supporting persons”, the category “ secondary means of livelihood” was used in the Census o f 1951 for another and quite different purpose, in relation to “ earning dependents”. According to the census instructions, the 1 Census o f India, 1951, Vol. VII, Madhya Pradesh, Part I-A, Report p. 417.
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
principal means of livelihood to be recorded for an “ earning dependent” was always to be that o f the “ self-supporting person” on whom he was dependent. For an “ earning dependent” the heading “ secondary means of livelihood ” was to record the source from which he earned or received income of his own. Even when so-called “ ear ning dependent’s ” worked full-time at their own occupations, these occupations were to be recorded under “ secondary means o f liveli hood”, so long as the workers were deemed to be receiving less than enough for their own maintenance. In such cases, we learn from various Superintendents o f the State Censuses, the enumerators found the instructions confusing and were strongly tempted to record the earning dependent’s own work as his principal means of livelihood. The collection of data on status as employers, employees, etc. was new in 1951. As tKe Census Commissioner explained, the item was introduced in response to a United Nations recommendation. We have already noted that the instructions were to record whether an individuaLwas an “ employer”, an “ employee”.^an “ independent worker” or fell into none o f these groups. The standard international status classification in the decade 1945-54 included one more cate gory: “ family workers” or “ unpaid family workers” . These are individuals who ordinarily and regularly participate with the other members of the household in the family’s economic work, whether that is in cultivation, village industries, or more skilled crafts. Since they are usually members o f the family, the question o f paying them does not typically arise. Although unpaid family helpers are usually women and children, the category may also include brothers or grown sons o f the head o f the household. Gathering of statistics on the number o f such family workers is considered particularly valuable for countries which are principally agricultural and rural. Indices of economic development have been constructed on the basis of the relative numbers of men returned as unpaid family workers in different countries. In inaugurating classification by status, however, the Census of 1951 provided nojseparate category for family-workers, who ,con stitute one of the largest and'mosrch'aracteristic groups engaged in economic activity in India. Nor did the instructions give the enumerators~~any'guidance for identifying and recording such persons. Numbers o f family workers were simply returned as “ non-earning dependents”. Thus, writing in 1956, the then Deputy Registrar
ECONOMIC CONCEPTS IN THE CENSUS OF INDIA
General of India stated that in Mysore “ the unpaid family helpers, who should have been enumerated as self-supporting persons or earning dependents, have been largely classified as non-earning dependents”.2 By contrast, the Census of 1931 had provided a special category for unpaid family workers, under the rubric, “ Working Depen dents”. These were described as persons following an occupation but not themselves receiving the wage or controlling the means of subsistence gained.3 Over 25 million persons werejceturned in 1931 as “ working-dependents” or “ unpaid family_workers All dependents in 1951, whether earning or non-earning, whether working full-time, part-time or not at all, were excluded from the coverage o f the status question. Only self-supporting persons were to be classified as employers, employees, or “ independent workers”. In effect, therefore, the replies to this question on status could provide only a partial and incomplete picture of India’s working force. Moreover, the returns from India’s vast agricultural sector were so unsatisfactory that the data were never tabulated. Of a total labour force of 139,022,000 (self-supporting persons and earning dependents in gainful occupations), status figures were finally presented in Table B-III of the 1951,-Cerisus for only 32,367,000 persons, i.e., less than one-fourth of the working population. The Census of 1951 divided the total population of India into eight “ Livelihood Classes”. Four of these refer to agriculture, particularly the cultivation of land; the other four refer primarily, but not exclusively, to non-agricultural pursuits. We shall consider first the nature of the “ Livelihood Classes” in agriculture. These were constituted as follow s: I. II. III.
Cultivators of land wholly or mainly owned, and their dependents; Cultivators of land wholly or mainly unowned, and their dependents; Cultivating labourers, and their dependents; and
1 Census of India, Paper No. 4, 1955, Economic Classification by Age-Groups, 1951 Census, Mysore (New Delhi, 1956), “ Foreword” . See also Census of India, Paper No. 3, 1955, Economic Classification by Age Groups, 1951 Census, Uttar Pradesh, published in New Delhi in 1956, by the Deputy Registrar General, Government of India. * Census of 1931, Report, Vol. I, p. 273.
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
Non-cultivating owners of land, agricultural rent-receivers, and their dependents.
According to the instructions for recording means of livelihood, persons- dependent on agriculture were to be returned in one or another of these four categories. The enumerators were required to make the decision on the spot and for each agriculturist simply to write down one of the numerals: 1, 2, 3 or 4. By contrast, apart from agriculture, the enumerators were requested “ to write fully and clearly what the person does in order to earn his livelihood and where he does it”. Grouping of these non-agricultural descriptions into occupations and “ livelihood classes” was done subsequently at headquarters. Four agricultural classes were prescribed in advance by the Census definitions and the data-gathering was limited to these classes. No leeway was allowed for recording cases which did not fit the categories. Nor was there any possibility of re sorting the data into more or less than the four pre-ordained groups. In an article entitled, “ India’s Agrarian Revolution by Census Redefinition”,4 we have analyzed these livelihood classes at some length. Accordingly, we shall deal here with only a few of the outstanding features of this grouping. In the first place we have to note that non-cultivating owners or rent-receivers in Class IV are separated off from “ cultivators” and “ cultivating labourers” . The census instructions were to put in Class IV any person “ who receives rent in cash or kind in respect of land which is cultivated by another person”. In effect, these persons were asked to describe themselves as economic inter mediaries, persons whose land was cultivated for them by others. At the time of the Census of 1951 India was in the midst of a rapidly rising wave of land reform, the announced purpose of which was to bring the actual or genuine cultivators into direct relation with the State. In this context, as some of the Census Superintendents have noted in their State Reports, it was not realistic to expect very many persons to pin labels on themselves as mere economic intermediaries; nor is it surprising that only a relatively small number actually did so. 4 Indian Economic Review (Delhi, August, 1956), Vol. Ill, No. 1, pp. 1-21. This article has been reproduced above, as Chapter X.
ECONOMIC CONCEPTS IN THE CENSUS OF INDIA
The agricultural grouping of the 1951 Census was also intended to distinguish sharply between persons who were “ cultivators” and persons who were merely “ cultivating labourers”. The nature of this difference, as conceived at the Census of 1951, was indicated in one of the supplementary .instructions; the “ cultivator” is a decision-maker, while the labourer is a person who acts under the direction of someone else. In the words of the census instructions, the man who takes the responsible decisions which constitute the direction of the process of cultivation (e.g., when and where to plough, when and what to sow, where and when to reap and so on ): it is this person who should be referred to as the cultivator, even though he does not perform any manual labour whatever. The man who ploughs, or sows, or reaps under the directions of someone else is not the cultivator — but a cultivating labourer, a different thing altogether.5 The difference in the Indian countryside between a cultivator and a labourer may not have been so clear as the Census authorities opined. The Agricultural Labour Enquiry of 1949-51 has indicated, furthermore, that half of India’s agricultural labour families actually held some land. There are grounds for believing that, at the Census of 1951, labourers with any bits of land, no matter how tiny in area or insignificant in terms of yield, returned themselves as “ cultivators”. The Census of 1951 further attempted to separate the “ cultivators” into two groups, those who mainly owned the land they cultivated (i.e., cultivating owners); and those who mainly cultivated land which they did not own (in effect, cultivating tenants). The effort to separate owners from tenants has been a feature of several Indian censuses. What was distinctive about the Census of 1951 was the boldness with which the census instructions grouped hereditary, occupancy, and other kinds of permanent tenants among owners. All persons with a permanent and hereditable right of occupancy in land were to be called owners, even when there was a landlord above them to whom they paid rent. Thus in the class of owners there were lumped together both the zamindars who held directly from Government and the occupancy “ tenants” from whom these zamindars took rent. 5 Census of India, 1951, Vol. I* India, Part II-B, Economic Tables (Delhi, 1954), p. XII.
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
While the Census of 1951 was very firm and explicit about classi fying many millions of tenants as “ owners ”, it was remarkably vague about the treatment of cropsharers, the bataidars, bargadars, and bhagidars who constitute one of India’s largest agricultural groups. Were these cropsharers to be considered as cultivators or labourers ? If they were taken to be “ cultivators”, then the cropsharers would be classified among those entitled to important benefits under the new land reform acts. Were the cropsharers to be considered as tenants ? In States like West Bengal and the U.P., the laws denied them this status; the Bombay Tenancy Act of 1948, however, had been so framed as to confer tenancy status upon persons paid as wages a share of the crop in kind. Although it was insistent upon an uniform treatment of many millions of tenants as owners, the Census of 1951 seems to have left the classification of cropsharers to the individual and varying judgments of the Census Superintendents in the several States. In making these observations it is not intended to suggest that India’s agricultural classes may easily be divided into distinctive and significant groups. It is rather intended to make as plain as possible the genuine difficulties which are involved; and to indicate that census instructions should face up squarely to these difficulties and be as clear, uniform, and comprehensive as possible. As it is, the Census of 1951 agricultural classes were constituted according to one or more of a rather heterogeneous set of criteria: 1. holding of legal and customary rights in land and deriving economic benefit therefrom, 2. fulfilment of a so-called economic function, viz., decision making; and 3. performance of physical labour. By contrast, the four non-agricultural classes of the Census of 1951 represent a grouping primarily in terms of industry. These livelihood classes are divided as follows: V. VI. VII. VIII.
Production other than cultivation, Commerce, Transport, Other services and miscellaneous sources.
ECONOMIC CONCEPTS IN THE CENSUS OF INDIA
It should be noted that the non-agricultural livelihood classes refer to four separate groups of industries; as we have seen, the agricultural livelihood classes (Nos. I-IV) refer only to one industry, namely agriculture. Hence the basis of the division into eight live lihood classes is somewhat unclear and confusing. We should also observe that while Livelihood Class Y, “ Production other than Cultivation”, includes manufacturing and mining, it also includes agricultural plantations, forestry and fishing. The latter three pro perly belong with agriculture; in fact, the National Income Reports of the Government o f India have allocated them to the agricultural sector. It might also be noted that in presenting their data for manu facturing, the Census of 1951 bracketed village artisans and more, specialized handicraft workers with factory employees. Thus in the Census o f 1951 tables there is no way of separating, for example, village spinners using old-fashioned charkhas from factory operatives who stand before massive batteries o f Lancashire-built spinning machines. We may now sum up this consideration of the economic data elicited in the 1951 Census. It may be useful to illustrate the inter relations of the three economic questions in the form of a chart, which is presented on page 162. The chart makes clear the overriding importance which the Census of 1951 assigned to “ dependency”. Upon the placement of an individual in one or another of the three categories under question 9A depended the type of entry under questions 10 and 11 and whether any entry at all was to be made under questions 9B and 11. Under question 10, “ Principal Means o f Livelihood”, we can see that the same return, e.g., cultivating owner or bidi maker, was to be entered for persons who were active in that field of work and for “ dependents” who might never have been active in it in any way and who might even be active in a different field. Similarly, under question 11 we note that the category “ Secondary Means of Liveli hood” had a dual function. On the one hand, it was to be used to record the subsidiary source of income of self-supporting persons; on the other hand, it was supposed to record the “ earning dependent’s ” own source o f income. As the single instruction under question 9B indicates, the status of a person as employer, employee, etc. was to be recorded only for self-supporting persons, and not at all for earning or non-earning dependents.
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
CENSUS OF 1951: (9A)
ECONOM IC QUESTIONS (NOS. 9A, 10, 11. 9B) (10)
Principal Means o f Livelihood
Secondary Means o f Livelihood
Own principal means o f liveli hood (i.e., source of income)
Self-supporting person’s own se condary means o f livelihood
Principal means o f livelihood of self-supporting person on whom the earning depen dent is dependent
Earning depen dent’s own means oflivelihood (i.e., source o f income)
Principal means of livelihood o f the s e lf -s u p p o r tin g person on whom the non-earning dependent is de pendent
(9B) Employer, Employee, Independent Worker, or Other Self-supporting person’s status in the occupation providing his prin cipal means o f livelihood
The “ dependency” grouping — into self-supporting persons, earning dependents, and non-earning dependents — served as the basis of the whole system of economic classification. Yet it consisted in a set of artificial categories quite out of correspondence with the way life is lived in the overwhelming mass of Indian households. It is not surprising that the Census of 1951 statistics on dependency show internal inconsistencies7 and have been brought into question by the data obtained in subsequent surveys. 7 Evidence of inconsistency o f Census data on dependency is presented in a study by Alice Thorner entitled, “ Working Force Size and Occupational Distri bution in India, 1950-55” , which is to appear in an early number o f Sankhya, The Indian Journal o f Statistics (Calcutta).
ECONOMIC CONCEPTS IN THE CENSUS OF INDIA
The means o f livelihood categories (both principal and secondary) confused work, occupation, sector of industry, earning of income, and receipt of income. In agriculture, furthermore, the four types of livelihood which could be entered (cultivation of owned land, cultivation of unowned land, cultivating labour, and receipt of agricultural rent) lumped together legal position in respect to land, economic function, and performance o f labour. The status grouping, as we have already noted, was attempted for only a part o f the working population (i.e., the self-supporting persons) and abandoned as unsuitable for tabulation for the great majority o f these (i.e., the persons engaged in agriculture). The serious difficulties encountered in the course of enumeration and the unsatisfactory nature of the data as finally presented stem from the fact that the basic economic categories employed in the Census of 1951 were not framed to suit the characteristic conditions of life in contemporary India.
XII THE FATE OF THE CENSUS OF LANDHOLDING* T h e case of Kashmir has shown that it is perfectly possible to draft
and enact land reforms without first taking a census of landholding. It is difficult, however, to assess the working of such reforms orjo. d ra\y_up_a comp rehensiye.programme for rural economic develop ment without knowing who owns the land, who works~lt, in what quantities,.and underjwhat terms. The fact is that for India as a whole these data have„never_been collected. Throughout the British period recurrent famines and rural unrest drew attention sharply to the sorry state of Indian agriculture. A series o f Inquiry Commissions, beginning with that of 1880, made various recommendations for improvement and almost invariably pointed to the need for adequate landholding statistics. The Famine Inquiry Commission of 1945 attempted to look into the relationships between land tenure systems and the efficiency of agricultural production. But they could not ascertain precisely how the land in India was owned (pattern of ownership holdings) or how the land was worked (pattern of cultivation holdings or operational holdings). They reported that data about ownership were “ generally incomplete” and that, as to data about farms (the land actually cultivated by given persons) “ practically no informa tion is available”. Yet how could the Commission suggest measures for improving the efficiency of agriculture without having “ full and accurate information as to how land is held and how it is cultivated” The Commission therefore strongly recommended the review and revision of village records to the end that: For every village there should be a record of all (owned) holdings and (cultivated) farms, including farms held by cultivators who do not possess a right o f occupancy in land. Further, the record should distinguish first, between holdings held by agriculturists and non-agriculturists and secondly, between lands held on cash and produce rents. Again, a basis o f classification should be * Reprinted with permission from the Economic Review (All-India Congress Committee), Vol. VII (New Delhi, August 15, 1955), pp. 75-78. 164
THE FATE OF THE CENSUS OF LANDHOLDING
adopted for distinguishing between small, medium and large holdings and farms-----There should also be a system of returns, based upon the primary registers, which would enable statistics to be compiled and published in regard to (a) the numbers of and the extent of land in the different classes of holdings and farms, (b) the number of holdings and the extent o f the land held by agriculturists and non-agriculturists respectively, (c) the extent of land cultivated under the crop-sharing system, and (d) mortgages. The figures should, as far as possible, be compiled on a uniform system in all the provinces. . . . In spite of the difficulties involved we attach .great, importance (here as elsewhere in the report) to the improvement_of statistics.! In the troubled years immediately after 1945, leading up to partition and independence, these recommendations fell by the wayside. The subject came to the fore again inT948, when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations asked India to participate in the World Census o f Agriculture proposed for 1950. The Central Ministry of Agriculture looked with favour on the FAO request and appointed a Technical Committee headed by W. R. NatU'to make preparations for the Census. In their Report (Co ordination o f Agricultural Statistics in India — 1949), the Committee urged Government to seize the occasion of the FAO Census for instituting a thorough overhaul of the country’s machinery and procedures in the collection of agricultural statistics. Not only should India take part in the proposed FAO Census, but the Government should also arrange for the regular collection in the future of the basic data required for the reconstruction and planned development of India’s agricultural economy. The Natu Committee worked out detailed forms to obtain comprehensive data (some on an annual basis, some on a quinquennial basis), on tenures, tenancies, rents, cropsharing, mortgaging, land utilization, farm operation, and crop production. The Committee’s emphasis, we may remark, followed the lead given by the FA O : the focus-ofUheXensus was to be on the pattern of cultivation (the actual managing and working ofland) ratherthanon the pattern of ownership (title to and rights in land). But for the~land"maEng up eacfiTarm, ix ., unit o f cultivation, the proposed year to year agricultural returns would ascertain under 1 Final Report, Famine Inquiry Commission, 1945, pp. 263-64.
LAND AND LABOUR IN INDIA
what rights (owner, tenant, cropsharer, etc.) the_farmer held the land_he_cultiyated. After considering the suggest!on thaFthis in formation be collected as part o f the Population Census of 1951, the Committee concluded that this would not_prove practicable. But Government did not take steps to implement the Committee’s own proposal for a separate landholding census and for subsequent annual and quinquennial enumerations. When the First Five Year Plan was being drafted in 1950 and 1951, the decision was taken to place the major emphasis on agri cultural development. Once again, public notice was drawn to the serious deficiencies in agrarian and agricultural statistics. The revised and amplified version of the First Five Year Plan, issued at the end of 1952, particularly emphasized the significance of a census of landholding for the formulation of land reform policy. At that time, the burning issue of_the„ day was the question of putting a ceiling on holdings~aboye a given"size, in order to providejand.for distribution to very^small holders o^to^landless^agriculturists. To decide at what level to pitch the proposed ceilings in different parts of the country, the Planning Commission observed, clearly required some knowledge of the current size and distribution of holdings, as well as data about the extent of lands personally culti vated by owners and the extent given out to tenants or cropsharers. The Planning Commission, therefore, requested all States to co operate in carrying through in 1953 a census of landholdings. In fact, the Planning Commission took the view that “ the completion of work on the land census is a vital stage in each State in carrying out the policy for limiting holdings”.2 In the country at large, this was taken to mean that imposition of ceilings could be deferred untU.afteX-the-completion-oCthe.lapd census. Yet the entire year 1953—the year in which the landholding