Policy Engagements and Blogs

Policy in Action- Land Rights

September 29, 2023

The Centre for Policy Research turns fifty this year. Fifty years in the service of Indian policymaking, of keeping a robust conversation between the government, policymakers and the Indian populace alive – this is indeed a moment of pride and reflection for us. As we celebrate this special milestone, we present some snippets of our impact on the Indian policy sphere over the years in various areas of research.

This edition of Policy in Action, is dedicated to our work on Land Rights. The bulk of CPR’s work in this area is attributed to the Land Rights Initiative which was launched in 2014. Even today, almost 60 percent of all Indians are directly dependent upon 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. 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), guaranteed equal property rights to all Indians, including women and Dalits or Scheduled Castes for the first time.

However, as the development agenda played out over the following decades, there was a gradual demise of the right to property through a series of constitutional amendments between 1951 and 1978. Particularly vulnerable were the Scheduled Tribes, which constitute only 8.6% of India’s population but constitute nearly 40% 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 has 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.

Here’s a snapshot of CPR’s work on Land Rights over the years:

To know details about CPR’s work on Land Rights, you can visit our website at https://cprindia.org/researcharea/land-rights/ or the work of the Land Rights Initiative https://cprindia.org/research/land-rights-initiative//. To know more about the Mapping Indian Land Laws project, visit landlawsofindia.org

Stay tuned for our next pop-up edition of Policy in Action, coming soon!