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Caste Pattern in Land Holdings

Land is the source of wealth and power in an agricultural society and as in the rest of India, ownership of land is highly skewed across social groups in Bundelkhand. 

Data from the 2002 BPL Survey for Banda district, shown in table 1 below is indicative (for a discussion of the survey, see under 'BPL Survey' in Estimation of Poverty in Bundelkhand). The data relates to 2.51 lakh rural households in the district, of which roughly 20% belonged to SC groups, 62% to OBCs and the rest to an 'other' category - predominantly 'general' category castes, or upper castes like Banias, Thakurs and Brahmins.

The data shows a fairly high degree of effective landlessness:  around 30% of rural households had no operational holdings. However, among SCs, the proportion was much higher (46%).

As significant is the data in the last row of alternate columns, which shows that SC households accounted for only 6% of all holdings above 5 hectares (ha) unirrigated land or above 2.5 ha of irrigated land; OBC and 'other' category households held the rest of this category of valuable agricultural land.

Table 1: Operational landholding pattern in Banda district according to social status of rural households ( RRHs), in percentages (2002)

Type of holding SC RHHs holding type SC RHHs in total holdings of type OBC RRHs holding type

OBC RHHs in total holdings of type Other RHHs holding type

Other RHHs in total holdings of type Holdings of RHHs of all social groups
Nil holding 46 31 27 57 20 12 30
<1 ha unirrigated or < 0.5 ha irrigated 42 21 42 66 28 13 39
1-2 ha unirrigated or 0.5-1 ha irrigated 7 10 16 64 21 25 15
2-5 ha unirrigated or 1-2.5 ha irrigated 2 5 9 60 17 34 9
> 5 ha unirrigated or > 2.5 ha irrigated 2 6> 5 52 15 41 6

Source: 2002 BPL Survey data. Percentages derived from absolute figures and rounded off to nearest integer (and hence do not add up to 100 in relevant columns). Land holding of rural ST households (0.3%  of total) and 'no response' households (0.2% of total) ignored.

Table 2: Operational landholding pattern in Panna district according to social status of rural households ( RHH), in percentages (2002)

Type of holding ST RHHs holding type ST RHHs in total holdings of type SC RHHs-holding type SC RHHs in total holdings of type OBC RHHs holding type OBC RHHs in total holdings of type Other RHHs holding type Other RHHs in total holdings of type Holdings of RHHs of all social groups
Nil holding 36 24 35 29 22 35 18 13 26
<1 ha unirrigated or < 0.5 ha irrigated 41 18 42 23 41 45 28 13 39
1-2 ha unirrigated or 0.5-1 ha irrigated 18 15 18 18 23 46 25 21 22
2-5 ha unirrigated or 1-2.5 ha irrigated 4 7 5 11 10 47 18 35 9
> 5 ha unirrigated or > 2.5 ha irrigated 1 3 1 7 3 36 10 53 3

Source: Same as above table. Percentages derived from absolute figures and rounded off to nearest integer (and hence do not add up to 100 in relevant columns).

Data from MP Bundelkhand is similar, though extent of effective landlessness is much lower here.

Data from Panna district (table 2 above) shows that 36% of SC households and 35% of ST households had no operational holdings; among OBCs and 'other' category groups, the percentage was much lower. SC and ST households together accounted for only 10% of holdings above 5 hectares (ha) unirrigated land or above 2.5 ha of irrigated land, though  together they accounted for 38% of the 1.73 lakh rural households in the district.

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