From Sharecroppers to Landowners: Paving the Way for West Bengal's Bargadars

Rural Development Institute Report No. 121

43 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2005

See all articles by Robin Nielsen

Robin Nielsen

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Tim Hanstad

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Date Written: June 2004

Abstract

West Bengal's sharecroppers, known as bargardars, have benefited enormously from the State's land reforms and legislation-implementation programs like Operation Barga. The success of West Bengal's efforts is evident in its villages: the economic and social status of many bargadars has been significantly enhanced. So much so, in fact, that many bargadars have taken the success a step further: on their own initiative, they are negotiating for, and obtaining ownership of, the land they cultivate as bargadars. West Bengal's Land Reform Act, however, did not fully contemplate the prospect of bargadar transactions in barga land and landowners are paying unnecessarily high prices - both monetary and otherwise - for these voluntary transactions. In order to obtain land ownership, bargadars often must engage in inefficient and costly two-step transactions with their landowners, which doubles administrative costs and requires significant time. Parties that attempt to avoid the additional costs by electing a more streamlined, one-step process may save extra stamp duty and fees, but often create a cloud on the title of the land. In both cases, the parties are paying more (or obtaining less) than necessary, and the cumbersome nature of the process likely has a deterrent effect on other potential transactions.

Keywords: Land Reform, Property Law, West Bengal, Land Transactions

JEL Classification: Q15, K11, R00, Q10

Suggested Citation

Nielsen, Robin and Hanstad, Tim, From Sharecroppers to Landowners: Paving the Way for West Bengal's Bargadars (June 2004). Rural Development Institute Report No. 121, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=829306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.829306

Robin Nielsen (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Tim Hanstad

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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