From achieving food security to gender equality and making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, land is a common parameter in achieving overall sustainable development goals. However, many countries around the world are struggling with land-related corruption leading to a source of conflict and violation of basic human rights. Cases of land grabbing, compensation-less expropriation, gender-based discrimination in accessing and ownership of land and related resources, illegal mining deals, bribing to access land administration services among others are a few such examples.
Highlighting these land issues, NRMC Centre for Land Governance in partnership with 40 other local and global organizations organized the “4th India Land and Development Conference” at the India International Centre from March 02-04, 2020. The theme of the conference was ‘Institutions, Innovations and Information.
“Very few people in the world are accumulating land, and land for the poor is dwindling. Half of the people in India are landless” said Pranab Roy Choudhury of Center4Land. “We need to expand the land space to secure land rights for all. There are 1.5 billion parcels needing to be mapped in India. Only 2% is mapped. 300 million would need to be mapped each year. We need more actors and partners to get this done”, added Choudhary
Gocind Kelker, Advisor to Landesa in New Delhi, and Regional Council Member of Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Chiang Mai, Thailand highlighted on women and economic justice and their land rights. Kelker said that gender bias is a major factor when it comes to resource allocation this results. This explains women’s condition in their family and society. Highlighting a study by FAO she suggested that if land is in women’s name then there is not only greater sense of agency but also the land productivity increases.
Talking about women’s land right in India she said, “Policy has failed women. They are not trained to develop their capabilities but are brought up to be dependant. Economic justice through land ownership will allow women to think, choose, and do in the face of bias and violence based on gender.”
Nearly 70% of agricultural activities carried out by women who have no right to land and are not recognized as farmers says Milloon Kothari an ex-United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing with the human rights council. Land rights and human rights are inextricably linked. The most vulnerable people in India are landless. Hegemonic forces seek to reduce rights to commodities, he added further, he added further.
Tim Hansted CEO of Chandler Foundation said, “India in this regard is grappling with such issues. Land record digitization in India should protect the land rights of the poorest. It is an irony that in spite of digital advances, India still struggles in updating land records”.
Talking about Caste, Land, and Social Justice Shivani Chaudhry of Housing and Land Rights Network said reiterated that land is integrally linked to the life, identity, and dignity of Dalits and Adivasis. “There are 26 people being evicted every day from Indian cities in the name of urbanization beautification and development. These are euphemisms for pushing people out. Thus, Social function of land has to be integrated into land governance and urban planning in order to secure place for urban poor”, she added further.
During the inaugural session, NRMC launched a report titled Land in India: Issues and Debates that talks about key developments in India’s land sector. The report draws on the works of ILDC partners to present a quick overview of some of the key developments and debates in India’s land sector. It brings together 11 key issues that currently engage the minds of policymakers and researchers in India.