Agriculture continues to be a key component of our economy. Even as the contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP has dropped to less than 20%, more than half of India’s population – nearly three-fourths of India’s rural population – still remains engaged in this sector.

Agrarian revolution is the axis of democratic revolution in India and the land question is the basic question of this revolution. Advancing the struggle of the rural proletariat and the peasantry to abolish landlordism and other feudal remnants thoroughly, free agriculture from the domination of big capital and the stranglehold of imperialism and transform all social relations and political institutions – this constitutes the essence of the agrarian question.

Our approach to the agrarian question in general and to specific peasant demands in particular is to facilitate development of class struggle in the countryside. Subordinating every demand to the advancement of class struggle against the landlord-kulak nexus in the countryside is the central point in the agrarian question.

Tireless efforts are needed to promote the alliance between the class-conscious proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry while preparing for the inevitable high tide of peasant struggles. As the Communist International had pointed out, “The proletariat is a really revolutionary class and acts in a really Socialist manner only when it comes out and acts as the vanguard of all the working and exploited people, as their leader in the struggle for the overthrow of the exploiters; this, however, cannot be achieved unless the class struggle is carried into the countryside…” (Preliminary Draft Theses on the Agrarian Question, Communist International, Second Congress, 1920).

Far-reaching changes have taken place in Indian agriculture in the last three decades. In order to develop class struggle in the countryside and to solve the agrarian problem from the standpoint of the proletariat, the Party should clarify its guiding principles of the Party policy in relation to agriculture, various classes and strata of the rural population. Hence the need for a comprehensive agrarian programme enunciating the proletarian viewpoint to intervene in the agrarian arena and advance through the complex maze of class relations in the countryside.

I. Evolution of Indian Agriculture in the Post-Colonial Era

India being a predominantly rural and agricultural country, British colonialists were quick to realize that they could not possibly prolong and consolidate their rule without ensuring a high degree of stability in the agrarian economy. The colonial period thus witnessed a series of bourgeois interventions in the agrarian arena that sought to restructure the rural society without jeopardizing, let alone eliminating, the feudal survivals. The Indian ruling classes too followed essentially a similar approach after Independence.

In the 1950s, statutory landlordism was abolished with compensation of about Rs.600 crore given to landlords by peasants through the state. Nearly 20 million tenants were thus brought into the purview of direct relationship with the state. The greatest beneficiaries of land reforms programme were occupancy tenants, a large section of whom had already turned into landlords. The greatest sufferers of the reforms were tenants-at-will, who were evicted in hundreds of thousands by landlords in the name of resuming self-cultivation. The land ceiling acts were so framed and implemented that