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Library Land and livelihoods making land rights real for India’s rural poor

Land and livelihoods making land rights real for India’s rural poor

Land and livelihoods making land rights real for India’s rural poor

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Date of publication
July 2018
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Land is at the centre of rural lives in India. Land has inherent value, and it creates value. A plot of land can provide a household with physical, financial, and nutritional security, and provide a labourer with a source of wages. Land is a basis for identity and status within a family and community. Land can also be the foundation for political power.

Sustainable livelihoods analysis provides a constructive framework for examining the significant role land plays in the livelihoods of India's rural poor. The sustainable livelihoods approach focuses on the capabilities of people, and highlights the interrelationships between and among people and the assets they rely on and develop. The analytical process is necessarily forward looking: the process focuses on people's strengths and aspirations as they pursue their livelihood objectives.

This paper is similarly forward looking. The paper responds to a request from the Livelihood Support Programme for (a) identification of land-related issues that are central to consideration of land access in rural India and (b) suggestions for concrete opportunities for positively impacting the livelihoods of the rural poor. The paper discusses a range of issues and opportunities, such as possibilities for liberalizing restrictive legislation and expanding the vision of appropriate land grants to include small plots. The paper also considers the role that institutions such as land markets, group land-leasing schemes, and local governance bodies can potentially play in supporting (or undermining) livelihood objectives, and the extent to which institutions can be catalysts for societal change. The paper approaches the issues from the perspective of what is possible, what India's rural population envisions for itself, and the land-related livelihood objectives that might be achievable with well considered and well placed support.

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