Does land still matter?
The national economy is growing at near double-digit rates but neither industry nor non-agricultural activities in rural India have been able to provide livelihoods for millions of rural workers. It is this failure that underlies the spurt in rural violence that has highlighted once again the issue of the poor's access to land, water and forests. It is gradually being recognised that further deterioration of economic, social and political conditions of the rural poor can neither be arrested nor reversed without a significant policy shift towards a comprehensive land reform programme. Land reform means the disempowerment of a small but very powerful number of people. In a democratic society land reform can be undertaken sans bloodshed but not without tears.