ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bonded Labour in Indian Agriculture

Bonded Labour in Indian Agriculture A R Bonded Labour in India by Sarma Maria; Biblia Impex Private Ltd, New Delhi, 1981; pp 227, Rs 85.
ON February 9, 1976 Parliament passed the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. Till then no major step had been taken to free thousands of people living and working in bondage. The number of bonded labourers in this country has never been reckoned so far, and with the publication of Shanna .Marla's book one expected data to be available for the first time concerning all of India as well as each state of the country.

Expectations Belied

if any, of the ceilings provisions of the law. Whether tenancy legislation, in conditions of high population density, can ever be effective in the absence of redistribution of land ownership, is a question which has arisen in many countries. It would be interesting to know whether the recent experience in Kerala can throw any fresh light on it. Of course, it cannot be argued that measures for land redistribution would now be likely to have such a favourable effect on development as the reform of 1865 in Travancore. For one thing, all the cultivable land has now been taken into cultivation. The strength of peasant ownership in Travancore has been undermined by subdivision of holdings accompanying the growth of population, and leasing and subleasing of land is on the increase. Even if drastic redistribution of property were carried out in Malabar and Cochin, the problem of land shortage would still be acute. As Varghese emphasises, the only way of increasing farm output now is by means of intensification, for which there is certainly much scope, owing to Favourable natural conditions and the comparatively high proportion of population in non-agricultural occupations. Is it not possible that the division of the extensively cultivated large proper- tics would also contribute to intensification? This is only one of the, many questions which arise from this stimulating, sound and original exposition of the problems of Kerala.

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