MISCELLANEOUS

dated December 5 1952: Madras Tanjore Tenants' Bill

From the Editorials: "This Bill, passed into law, was brought forward to end what the Government regarded as dangerously strained relations between the owners, and the tenants and paanaiyals. The Chief Minister, winding up the debate, expressed himself as still hopeful that that result would follow. The Communist Party made it clear they were not going to stop agitating for more benefits to tenants. We too would fain hope that the measure might promote peace in the countryside, and lead to increased production. But there are other reasons besides the Communists' proclaimed resolve why one cannot feel too confident of such an outcome. The reports of large-scale evictions of tenants, which made the Government assume there was dangerous tension, wre grossly exaggerated. Assuming that an immediate, rough-and-ready settlement on the initiative of the Government was called for, a simple percentage increase of the tenant's share and provision for restoration of tenants who could show they had been victimised was the obvious remedy. That was what even the Communists wanted, though naturally they wanted that the increase should be as high as 20 per cent which would have meant raising the tenant's share in the district to a higher pitch than what the present Bill has sanctioned. But the Government refused to adopt this method which would have at least had the merit of not prejudging conclusions that should have been based upon investigation by an expert Land Commission of conditions all over the State in order to adjust anew the relations between landowners and tenants considering local factors and customs which difer widely. Instead, the Government chose to legislate for a single district and take powers to apply that legislation with modifications to other areas should the necessity for that arise. A more unsatisfactory way of setting about the business cannot be imagined. So far as Tanjore is concerned, it has resulted in an ill-thought-out piece of legislation which proceeds on a priori considerations having little relevance to the prevailing conditions. And because most of the members on the Select Committee, and in the Legislature, had little or no personal knowledge of the district they wre disposed to give little attention to the cogent criticisms levelled against the Bill that it would make neither for social justice nor for increased production... .

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