Comments on India’s Long-term Low Emissions and Development Strategy (LT-LEDS)

India released its Long-term Low Emissions and Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) at the UN climate conference (COP27) at Sharm El-Sheikh on November 14, 2022. It can be accessed here. CPR was the overall anchor institution and technical knowledge partner for the LT-LEDS.
Here, Navroz K. Dubash (Professor), Dr. Aman Srivastava (Fellow) and Parth Bhatia (Associate Fellow) at the Centre for Policy Research comment on the relevance of the document and what the next steps should be.

“India’s LT-LEDS is an important statement of intent to pursue low-carbon strategies for development, and a sound beginning toward doing so.” – Prof. Navroz K. Dubash
The strategy is firmly, and appropriately, anchored in considerations of climate equity. It calls for developed countries to undertake early net-zero and to provide adequate finance and technology in support of India’s plans for low-carbon development.
“The important principle of climate equity can usefully be operationalised by India laying out its own vision of low-carbon development and identifying within it the needs for support from developed countries. This LT-LEDS is an important step towards doing so.” – Dr. Aman Srivastava

The document clearly emphasises that India faces significant energy needs for development, to manage its simultaneous demands for job creation, urbanisation, and infrastructure development, all of which are energy intensive.
“India faces the challenge of meeting its growing energy needs even while avoiding lock-in to a high carbon future. The document’s approach of sector-by-sector low-carbon development futures enables India to strike this balance” – Dr. Aman Srivastava
The heart of India’s LT-LEDS is six key sector-by-sector low-carbon development transitions driven by considerations of India’s own development needs, and backed by a discussion of necessary finance. For each sector, the LT-LEDS lays out 5-10 ‘elements’ of a transition – for example, low-carbon electricity systems require expanding renewable energy and the grid, demand-side management, and rational use of fossil fuels, among others.

“Having clear ‘buckets’ for action, as the strategy does, is very important to mobilise bureaucracies and send clear signals for action to the private sector.” – Prof. Navroz K. Dubash

“This is the first government document that articulates long-term strategies for transitions in sectors beyond energy and forests. It has fired the starting gun for a serious transformation of the transport, industrial, and urban sectors.” – Parth Bhatia

The LT-LEDS takes a balanced view to these transitions, recognising both the possibilities for technological and competitive benefits arising from low-carbon transitions, but also that there are trade-offs and costs.

“Recognising that there are both possible benefits and trade-offs is necessary. The next step should be clearly identifying the nature of these benefits and trade-offs for each sectoral transition.” – Dr. Aman Srivastava

It is significant that the LT-LEDS process was underpinned by a cross ministerial consultative process backed by academics, research organisations and several other stakeholders.

“The consultative nature of this process is a considerable strength, as no top-down strategy can capture the diverse views and interests that need to be accounted for in India’s low-carbon development strategy.” – Parth Bhatia

“India’s LT-LEDS should be viewed as a living document. Future iterations should emphasize robust and transparent modelling towards net-zero by 2070, clearer identification of sectoral co-benefits and trade-offs, and more detailed discussion with states.” – Prof. Navroz K. Dubash.

Land Rights Initiative turns 8 today!

Land Rights Initiative turns 8 today! As we mark this important milestone, I am incredibly grateful to the Centre for Policy Research, our researchers, donors, mentors, collaborators, government, civil society groups, and communities that have made this journey possible and our work sustainable.

I set up the Land Rights Initiative (“LRI”) with the belief that land is central not just to India’s economic development agenda but to the very idea of India itself. Even as we celebrate 75 years of India’s independence this year, almost 60 percent of all Indians are directly dependent upon the land for their livelihoods. Land is not just an economic resource; it is also central to individual dignity and community identity, history, and culture. Land reforms were crucial not only to India’s economic development but also to its political independence and social redistribution story.

India’s freedom movement was premised upon liberating us from a past of colonial domination and subordination and upon building a future that would bring about rapid economic development for all Indians and ensure individual dignity for all. The Indian Constitution adopted in 1950 safeguarded land rights of Scheduled Tribes and through the inclusion of the fundamental right to property in Article 19(1) (f), for the first time guaranteed equal property rights to all Indians, including women and Dalits or Scheduled Castes. Together, women, Scheduled Castes, and Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes constitute the bottom 60% of the population.

However, as the development agenda played out over the following decades, it brought to the fore the inherent tension between the utilitarian nature of the “development discourse” and the dignitarian nature of the “rights discourse”. This led to the gradual demise of the right to property through a series of constitutional amendments between 1951 and 1978. Ostensibly done for the benefit of the poor, the period since the abolition of the right to property in fact saw greater displacement and dispossession of people from the land due to various development projects. Particularly vulnerable were the Scheduled Tribes, which constitute only 8.6% of India’s population but constitute nearly 50% of those displaced between 1950 and 1999, many of them twice in one lifetime due to dams, mines, wildlife parks, and sanctuaries. This widespread development-induced displacement led to persistent and ubiquitous legal and extra-legal conflict over land, plaguing the lives of people across millions of hectares of land and threatening investments worth billions of dollars.

It was against this backdrop that Land Rights Initiative set out to investigate the reasons for conflict over land and to build a body of knowledge that would enable the government to formulate and implement policies in a way that would preserve the land rights of the people of India without derailing the development agenda.

Over the first five years of its existence, LRI released two pioneering research reports and a singular policy brief that outlined reasons for land conflict and made policy suggestions for reform. The first research report on Land Acquisition in India: A Review of Supreme Court Cases from 1950 to 2016 (CPR: 2017) constituted a first-time-ever comprehensive attempt to analyse all judicial decisions by the Supreme Court on land acquisition, numbering 1269, to illuminate the reasons for popular discontent with the government’s processes of land acquisition which had, in turn, led to both legal and extra-legal conflict over land. This Report has been used extensively by the Department of Land Resources in the Ministry of Rural Development and has been used in training and capacity-building programmes by the National Highways Authority of India and the National Institute for Defence Estates Management. The Report has also been used widely by individual litigants defending their lands against governmental acquisition. That this Report is now the authoritative text on land acquisition is evident from the fact that it was cited by opposing parties, both the government and farmers, before the Supreme Court Constitution bench in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal and others (2020).

The second research report on The Legal Regime and Political Economy of Land Rights of Scheduled Tribes in Scheduled Areas of India (CPR:2018) for the first time mapped the Scheduled Areas and plotted the forest cover and mines in India to show a significant overlap with the Scheduled Areas. Through a review of the constitutional and legal provisions pertaining to the Scheduled Areas, and conflicting narratives of identity and development of Scheduled Tribes, the Report was able to shed light on the reasons for the displacement, poverty, and landlessness of Scheduled Tribes. Recommendations from this Report and the National Seminar on Understanding Landlessness and Displacement of, and Atrocities against Scheduled Tribes co-organised by LRI and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in 2018, and the 2020 NCST report on Tribal Land Alienation in India, for which I served as an expert advisor, were incorporated into NCST’s Annual report (2019-2020) under Article 338A of the Constitution. NCST’s Annual Report was sent to the President of India in early 2021.

Consolidating our work over a five-year period, the policy brief on Understanding Land Conflict in India: Suggestions for Reform (2019) highlighted the conflicting people versus state narratives over land which in turn had led to over a thousand colonial and post-colonial laws and administrative practices. The absence of a publicly available comprehensive database of land laws greatly hampered citizen access to the laws that govern one of the most important aspects of our lives. The desire to fill this gap is what birthed LRI’s most ambitious project called One Thousand Land Laws: Mapping Indian Land Laws. Conceptualised and executed over a period of five years, this project involves an attempt to create a comprehensive, exploratory archive of all land laws in India, a veritable “google maps for land laws”. This year, we launched the web and mobile versions of this website, accessible at

The website currently features officially authenticated copies of nearly 500 original and active central laws, and state laws from a geographically representative sample of eight states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab, and Telangana. The website also features Hindi and English language summaries of all laws. From laws pertaining to land reforms and land acquisition, to revenue and taxation and land use, forest and mining laws; from laws promoting and regulating urban and infrastructural development to laws dealing with evacuee, enemy, ancestral and religious property, this vast legal apparatus governs the lives of the people of India, and their interactions with each other and the state. Embedded within the website is a subject-wise classification of all the laws according to over thirty categories, further subdivided into a hundred and fifty sub categories.

For our work in creating citizen awareness and deepening democracy, in 2020, LRI was one of fifteen organisations (out of a hundred and fifty) shortlisted for the inaugural Shamnad Basheer Citizenship Prize, which recognises organisations transforming the field of law and justice. LRI’s research papers have informed courses and curricula across law schools and social science programmes. LRI’s internship programme has exposed and nurtured an entire generation of students in research on this complex subject. As the pioneering institution in the land policy space, LRI has also nurtured the land policy ecosystem by supporting the work of land policy initiatives at other research institutions.

Even as LRI enters its ninth year, climate devastation is upon us and world leaders are meeting in Egypt at the UN Climate Change Conference 27 to shape our collective response to the climate crisis. Our learnings over the past eight years have led us to conclude that land is not just crucial to the imagination of India, but also crucial to our imagination of sustainable survival on planet earth. We at LRI strongly believe that the indigenous imagination of “jal, jungle, zameen” as constituting an indivisible ecosystem, is crucial not just to the preservation of the way of life of Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes but is crucial to sustainable living on the planet. Land rights are an important mechanism for ensuring individual dignity and intergenerational equity, and community-based resource management systems are important for sustainable development. Over the next two years, LRI hopes to create dialogic engagement between our body of work on land rights and economic development with climate imaginaries of sustainable survival.

Dr. Namita Wahi
Founding Director, Land Rights Initiative
Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research

Message from CPR’s Chairperson, Governing Board, Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath on the 49th Foundation Day

The 49th anniversary of the Centre of Policy Research is an important occasion, and one that calls for both celebration and introspection. The sheer efflorescence of output at CPR is reason to celebrate. CPR was envisaged as an ecosystem that interfaced between the university and government to breathe intellectual life into what its founder then saw as a “moribund system of public administration, hamstrung by the poverty of imagination”. Dr.V.A. Pai Panandiker, Former President of CPR, laid the foundations of a vibrant space that pioneered the impressive body of work on policy issues in India that has become synonymous with CPR.
The nature of policy research is not narrowly prescriptive here. What is emphasized is the option generating imagination, that is best suited to the complex, diverse, highly variegated governance ecosystem of the country. CPR’s experts contribute to a dialogic process that brings voices to the table that are not often heard during policy consultations. Policy makers often draw on this rich repertoire for innovative scenario building.

The local and the global are not seen as discrete spaces, but as a matrix of criss- crossing trajectories that require collaborative, consultative engagement. This kind of interdisciplinarity is fully on display at the hugely popular Annual CPR Dialogues that draws enthusiastic participation from across sectors. Moving seamlessly from the local through the national, regional and global domains, CPR’s work transcends programmatic silos.

Through all the multisectoral work that we do, the leitmotifs reflect (1) an engagement with first principles, (2) the long view of the nature of the ethicality of the social compact, (3) how it delivers on democracy, on social and economic rights and enhances human dignity. We examine the normative dimension – not merely what is expedient for policy – but on how it impacts those it is intended for.

As we enter the 50th year as one of India’s premier think tanks, we celebrate our various milestones, but also collectively introspect on our evolving role and mandate:

  • How useful is our research and to whom does it matter? Are we an effective bridge between state, civil society and academia?
  • Does our knowledge production feed effectively into policy spaces?
  • Do we contribute to a wider epistemic community beyond the compulsions of funding deadlines and ‘outcome’ expectations?
  • Do we buttress democratic praxis?
  • In our quest for solutions how sensitive have we been to what questions remain…which we failed to ask?

In the dialectical interplay between ‘governance’ and ‘democracy’ is embedded our abiding question of what it would take to build a responsive, equitable, inclusive, effective 21st century State for India.

Our research takes us to the intersections of this complex mosaic of perceptions, practices, structures, beliefs that collide, cohere, even collude in ways that significantly determine the manner in which the people of India experience their rights and the quality of citizenship. The changing nature of the state and its ‘capacity’ in the current phase of ‘globalization’ is the big idea that links our work on accountability, urbanization, sanitation, energy, climate change, land rights, migration, health, cities, and the nuts and bolts of federalism with the lived experiences of the citizens of the Republic whom the state is meant to serve – not just service.

The other big question that engages us, revolves around navigating the emerging geopolitical landscape and the congruence between domestic/ electoral compulsions, the economy and India’s global aspirations. As the norms of engagement in the global order change, how should India calibrate her geopolitical position? What are the new configurations at play?

In a globalized world, as the line between what is external and what is domestic becomes increasingly porous, how must India secure her credentials as a democratic, pluralistic polity with a stable growth trajectory?

For an institution that celebrates its Golden Jubilee next year, CPR is incredibly young. Its resilience and vitality is reflected in its ability to continuously reinvent itself. Keeping in mind the changing national scenario and global imperatives CPR has added newer projects, even while fine tuning and refining existing programs. There is a continuous striving for greater congruence between projects.

As much as we introspect, we also continue to make our work accessible in the larger public sphere and draw upon reasoned critique to help nuance, refine and push the envelope further on the quality, credibility, non-partisanship and efficacy of our suggestions for sustainable implementation. This enables us to sustain a unique multi-stakeholder space where leading public policy practitioners, academics, and members of civil society deliberate upon the opportunities and critical challenges that animate governance choices and trajectories for India in the 21st century. Our striving to sustain robust public discourse based on objective, informed and non-partisan research on the issues at stake is the enduring leitmotif of our work