ANYONE who has ever held a piece of agricultural land would have a story to tell about the local patwari. Though these operatives of the revenue department also figure in urban property, their actual nuisance value comes up with full force when it comes to agricultural land in the peripheries and rural areas. Things can get pretty ugly, extortion and corruption being the norm, but even a descent to all-out hooliganism is not out of the realm of possibility. Particularly if there is a land dispute, you really don't want the other side to have warmed up to the local patwari. The news of the Punjab government's plan to computerize its land records in an attempt to do away with the patwari system, therefore, is welcome. If this works out in the province, it could be emulated, after having seen the possible glitches, in the other provinces as well. It would be incorrect, however, to assume that the post is going to be eliminated in its entirety. Mere tabulation is not the only reason the system is in place. Were that the case, the British government would have had these posts only for that, with the records constantly being sent over to the provincial headquarters. There are certain discretionary powers that the patwari exercises in addition to maintaining records, which necessitate the presence of a revenue official in the patwar circle. The computerization of the records, however, would reduce the scope of corruption. The mere intention to sell off one's land empowers the patwari immensely, a copy of the land papers from him being a necessity. The times ahead are going to require a lot of innovation in the agricultural sector. There is a huge food crisis going on, both nationally and internationally. We cannot have impediments to business, such as the local revenue system, come in the way of the desired innovation. The plan is commendable and should be executed as soon as the necessary homework is done.