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The basic system of land records in India was developed during the British rule and it has not yet been modified according to the needs and characteristics of present-day requirements. Land records are of great importance to genealogical research in locating ancestors and tracing their migrations.
The principal land records being maintained are:
- Village map: a pictorial form showing the village and field boundaries
- Field Book of khasra, which is an index to the map in which changes in the field boundaries, their area, particulars of tenure-holder,s methods of irrigation, cropped area, and other uses of land are shown
- Records of rights, also known as khatouni, in which the names and classes of tenure of all occupants of land are recorded
The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India, at http://rural.nic.in/ has initiated a centrally sponsored scheme to computerize land records. The centrally sponsored scheme on Computerization of Land Records (CoLR) at http://www.gisdevelopment.net/application/lis/overview/lisrp0015a.htm was started as a pilot project in eight districts/states:
- Rangareddy (Andhra Pradesh)
- Sonitpur (Assam)
- Singbhum (Bihar)
- Gandhinagar (Gujarat)
- Morena (Madhya Pradesh)
- Wardha (Maharashtra)
- Mayurbhanj (Orissa)
- Dungarpur (Rajasthan)
Their object is to remove the problems inherent in the manual system of maintenance and updating of land records and to meet the requirements of various groups of users. The project should eventually permit access to these valuable records.
However, the notion of permanent, individual ownership of land was foreign to most Indian tribes. Land, if seen in terms of ownership at all, was viewed as a communal resource, free to whoever needed it.
Matters concerning the ownership, acquisition, distribution, and taxation of land are, by provision of the Indian constitution, under the jurisdiction of the states. Because of the diverse attitudes and approaches that would result from such freedom if there were no general guidelines, the central government has at times laid down directives dealing with the main problems affecting the ownership and use of land. It remains for the state governments to implement the central government guidelines. Such implementation has varied widely among the states.
India is a land of small farms, of peasants cultivating their ancestral lands mainly by family labor and, despite the spread of tractors in the 1980s, by pairs of bullocks. About 50 percent of all operational holdings in 1980 were less than 1 hectare in size (an area equal to 100 acres or 10,000 square meters). About 19 percent fell in the one-to-two hectare range, 16 percent in the two-to-four hectare range, and 11 percent in the four-to-ten hectare range. Only 4 percent of the working farms encompassed 10 or more hectares.
Many factors (historical, political, economic, and demographic) have affected the development of the prevailing land-tenure status. The operators of most agricultural holdings possess vested rights in the land they till, whether as full owners or as protected tenants. By the early 1990s, there were tenancy laws in all the states and union territories except Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
The laws provide for states to confer ownership on tenants, who can buy the land they farm in return for fair payment; states also oversee provision of security of tenure and the establishing of fair rents. The implementation of these laws has varied among the states. West Bengal, Karnataka, and Kerala, for example, have achieved more success than other states. The land tenure situation is complicated, and it has varied widely from state to state. There is, however, much less variation in the mid-1990s than in the post-independence period.
In the Family History Library Catalog at http://www.familysearch.org use the Place Search for:
INDIA - LAND AND PROPERTY
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