The Land Portal published a new country portfolio for India as part of our Country Insights initiative. The initiative seeks to expand knowledge about how countries govern their land, the challenges they face, and the innovative solutions they find to manage land tenure issues. Each portfolio comes with a detailed description of the land governance context and a collection of related blogs, news, publications, statistical datasets and more.
For a country of its immense size, India has an even more immense population. With just under 1.4 billion inhabitants, it is almost as populous as China, yet with a country area (nearly 3.3 million km2) that is a third the size of its giant neighbour. There are 28 States and 9 union territories within the country, many of which practice strong autonomy in both their legal and administrative governance. There was a transition from a socialist to a market economy starting in the 1980s, which had large repercussions for land governance and the land market in the country.
With a long history, diverse geography and pluralistic culture, land governance has evolved in India through communal, imperial, feudal, colonial, and modern systems, gradually moving towards individualization and conclusive titling. Caste also has long been a mobilising factor in land access, ownership, accumulation and dispossession, even if discrimination along these lines was legally banned in 1955.
Indian land governance is at a transition between national aspirations for economic growth incumbent upon making land available for investments, while socialist states within the country are committed to an agenda on land and forest reforms that allocate to and recognise the rights of landless and ethnic minorities.