Sir Chhotu Ram – Agricultural Reforms
10, Oct 2018
Prelims level : Sir Chhotu Ram and his Reforms Mains level : Agricultural reforms in colonial period
Why in News?
- PM unveiled a statue of Deenbandhu Sir Chhotu Ram in Rohtak, Haryana.
Sir Chhotu Ram (1881-1945):
- Sir Chhotu Ram was a prominent politician in British India’s Punjab Province, an ideologue of the peasants of pre-Independent India.He championed the interest of oppressed peasants of the Indian Sub-continent and tried to create a non-sectarian peasant group consciousness.
- He formed the Unionist Party (Zamindara League) in 1923, which was a cross-communal alliance of Hindu Jats and Muslim agriculturists.
- He was awarded the title of ‘Rao Bahadur’ and was accorded knighthood in 1937.He popularly came to be known as Deen Bandhu.
- The Congress boycotted the 1920 elections, while Chhotu Ram got elected on a Zamindara Party ticket.
- His coalition party won the general elections of 1936 and formed a coalition government with himself becoming Revenue Minister.
- Chhotu Ram helped in the British Army recruitment effort for the First World War, and was instrumental in the recruitment of 22,144 from Rohtak area.
- He again backed a massive recruitment drive of the British during the Second World War.
Notable Agricultural Reforms:
- As a member of the pre-Partition Punjab Legislative Council, his first major achievement was the passage of the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 1929, which remains a landmark social legislation till date.
- The exploitation of the peasantry by moneylenders was brought to an end with a series of measures, starting with the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act, 1930.
- It was followed by the Punjab Debtors Protection Act of 1936 and the Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1943.
- It became mandatory for moneylenders to register themselves, without which they could not advance loans or prosecute farmers.
- All land attached and sold after June 8, 1901, and mortgaged for 37 years, was restored to its owners. Farmers were required only to give an application on plain paper to the district collector.
- If any moneylender had recovered twice the loan amount, the farmer was given his land back. Reconciliation boards were set up; confiscation of milch cattle, oxen, camels and carts or means of earning was barred. The Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act was passed in 1939, popularly called the Mandi Act which provided for the constitution of market committees in notified areas, and helped free the farmer from exploitation.
- A consolidation of land holdings was undertaken after passing the Consolidations Holding Act, 1936, amended in 1945.
- Not only were all these laws passed; Chhotu Ram also ensured their implementation.