Finance Minister Ignores Fundamental Rights of Women Farmers to Inherit Land -Naresh Chandra Saxena
Why asset redistribution is superior to income redistribution.
Land and labour are two basic factors needed by rural people for income generation. While women have always played a key role in agricultural production, their importance both as workers and as farm managers has been growing in the last two decades as more men move to non-farm jobs – leading to an increased feminisation of agriculture.
However, ownership of land is concentrated mostly in male hands in our patriarchal society. Bina Agarwal has estimated that in India, not more than 2 to 5% cultivated land is in favour of women. Lack of entitlement to land (and other assets such as house, livestock, and tractors) is a severe impediment to efficiency in agriculture – in the absence of a title, women cannot get credit or be entitled to irrigation and other inputs, especially technology.
In addition to improved production, the clinching argument in favour of land titles to women is the stability and security it provides, the protection it affords from marital violence, and the bargaining power it gives women in household decision making and in the labour market for wages. Increases in female status helps reduce fertility and rates of child mortality.
However, without title to land, women are not recognised – even by the state – as clients for extension services or as candidates for membership in institutions such as co-operative societies.
Land laws in post-Independence India
Before 1956, devolution of both acquired and inherited property was governed by the personal laws of the community. Although equal rights were granted to women in acquired property (mostly urban) through the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, rights in inherited agricultural land were specifically exempted from the Act, and were made subject to tenancy and land reform laws of the states.
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