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Political Play
Zulfiqar Shah
A book review of the book, "Line of Wealth" authored by Roshan Lal Agrawal 25 June, 2019
In human justice, the meaning of Economic Justice is a situation where everyone has equal share on the natural resources.

It is not based on the talent, aptitude or effort. It is just beyond that. Economic justice is a fundamental human right according to Universal Declaration of Human Right therefore cannot be violated. 

On the foothold of this rights regime, a person's right on the wealth can tangibly be measured through a ceiling on the wealth that fall in the fundamental rights sphere. The possession of wealth more than a ceiling should be considered outside the fundamental right. Although all religions; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the Constitutions of all countries confer the right of equality of all; however does not talk about the ceiling on the property. One the other hand, Hinduism; Christianity and Islam to greater extent have expressed the Godly and Prophetly commandments for the taxing above the certain ceiling of the wealth. Judaism is one simple and direct example in this context ? it ask for sacrifice through volunteer will from your wealth. In older times, nutritious food for the hilly and desert Israel (Israel and Palestine today) was meat, therefore sacrifice of goat was a wealthy's volunteer share to the poor. Judaism is Israel and Israelis (Bene Israel) bound religion, and at that time health, food and shelter were the sole optimum human requirements. Thin population and plenty of land was safety valve for free and owned shelter, weaving was popular art among Israeli therefore they had no dearth of clothing, therefore the only the nutritious food ? the sacrifice of goat -- became the Godly command for the Jews; however Islam symbolically continued it because Judaism is a religion on the path of Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim a.s.). This ceiling on the wealth, according to Agrawal is the average Line of Wealth, and has to be determined according to each country's realities. Economically, there can never be a static determination of ceiling of wealth, the same ceiling, for all countries, and even in all provinces / states within the federation. In nutshell, unequal rights, possession or ownership on the natural resource is injustice.

What Agrawal has not mentioned is the pink revolution or red-reforms by comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi in Sindh's (Pakistan) rural economy and peasants, landholders, the agriculture related business and labor. He simply led the movement of peasants; and succeed in the legislation of Sindh Tenancy Act in 1950 according to which owner of arable land will receive half of the crop production as rent of his land; however land owners spend the larger part on the inputs for the cultivation, therefore a peasant gets half of the crop produce as seasonal wage of his labor. Besides, a peasant can use the woods and grass for the cattle without paying to the landowner. Moreover, if a peasant is homeless, and if there is piece of uncultivated land nearby, his family can built a home and become owner of it without any cost.

According to Sindh Tenancy Act, no landowner can evict the peasant, if a landowner violates this law, a peasant can file petition before the Court of First Class Magistrate. Besides, if a landowner use abusive language to his peasant, he will become liable to fine. Importantly, if land owner sales his land, the first right to purchase that land is given to the peasant. This changed the sharecropping in Sindh, which immediately after was adopted by the rest provinces in Pakistan. In fact, ceiling on the land ownership by Nehru is already practiced in India in which arable land more than the ceiling was confiscated from the landowners and distributed among the landless peasants.

Meanwhile, Jatoi reforms in Sindh and rest Pakistan were materialized much before the Nehru did in India. Such reforms prevented from Maoist revolution in Pakistan. Later on during 2006- 2009 over one million Sindhi peasants took to the street for further reforms in sharecropping the culmination of the movement was Sindh Peasants Long March 2009 which was participated by hundreds of thousands. Finally, Sindhi Assembly amended the above-mentioned Sindh Tenancy Act due to this peasants' movement in March 2013 in which terms the extra labor by peasant excepting toiling process has to be beard by the landowner fifty percent that means peasants will not tender to the landowner the non-toiling land related work free of cost.

Unlike Nehru, Agrawal doctrine is against the confiscation of wealth in any forms; despite it talks about new taxation system in which a Citizen's Tax should be levied from those who possess more than certain ceiling on the wealth through one-tax system. His predecessor, in sharecropping context of economic justice, is Hyder Bux Jatio, who started people's movement among the peasantry before partition of Subcontinent, in which he termed landowner as only legitimate to receive rent of the land toiled by the peasants as well as invest in the crop production for receiving half of the crop produce. If seen in Agrawal's doctrine, Jatoi became successful to implement the limitation of landowners to receive rent of arable land in Pakistan. Jatoi launched this movement of peasants in camaraderie with Jamshed Nasrawan Ji Mehta and G. M. Syyed.

The exclusive most aspects of Agarwal Economic Justice doctrine are Line of Wealth approach and the new fiscal policy and taxation regime. This according to the Line of Wealth approach is based on unalienable equal right over the natural resources of citizens in a country or a land.

Book Details: 

Book: Line of the Wealth

Author: Roshan Lal Agrawal

Pages: 130

Price: INR 199

Publisher:  White Falcon Publishers

Available: Online available on Amazon, Flipkart and Ingram  

 Shah is a civil rights activist, researcher and analyst. He is M. Phil (coursework) in Development Studies (Development Economics) and is a PG Diploma (online and live) in Fiscal Federalism from World Bank Institute, USA.  He is a member of International Society for Philosophers, Sheffield University, UK and a member of South Asian Studies Society as well as British Society for South Asian Studies, UK. He has been engaged in the major research studies with European Commission; IOM (UN) and Oxfam GB.

About The Author
Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian. Currently he lives in India.
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