Research at RDI

Lack of reliable research hampers land allocation policies and legislation from having the desired impact. To that end, RDI conducts research on several critical aspects of land rights and reform. In this section, we bring to you some of our published as well as ongoing work across the country.

1. RDI undertakes key studies on leasing, Mahadalits, and land ownership among women

RDI is currently pursuing two critical research studies that address two separate but equally critical aspects of land rights and reforms in India. Both studies are expected to be completed by November, 2011. Please watch this space for up to date information.

  • Status and Impact of Land Leasing on Agricultural Efficiency and Equity: A Case Study of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
    This study, being undertaken in collaboration with New Delhi based Council for Social Development, is an attempt to understand the issues around the nature, extent and impact of laws regulating or restricting agricultural tenancy in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. Though land leasing is banned in many States, yet there is an active land lease market. Therefore the role of such contractual arrangements need to be understood in the broader framework of productivity and equity. Read more…
  • Gender and Land Tenure Security: Challenges and Barriers to Women’s Entitlement to Land in India
    RDI and UN women are collaborating over a study that will examine the many issues that affect women‟s ownership and control of land as an asset and as a means for empowerment. The study will examine the structural and functional dimensions of different caste and ethnic groups as related to women’s relationship to land and property ownership and draw an analysis from a historical as well as from a contemporary viewpoint. Read more…
  • Homesteadlessness and State Intervention in Bihar: A Study of Mahadalit Awas Bhoomi Yojana
    This study being undertaken in collaboration with the New Delhi based Council for Social Development seeks to examine the impact of the Mahadalit Awas Bhoomi Yojana, a scheme that targets an extremely marginalised group, mahadalits in Bihar. Read more…

2. Increasing Women’s Property Ownership Through Rural Housing Programmes in India

Despite existence of several laws that establish standards of gender equity in property rights, rural Indian women are often excluded from ownership and control of assets, including the right to property. While men increasingly migrate to urban areas for employment, women usually remain behind, their opportunities limited by lower education levels, and responsibilities towards children and elderly family members. They rely on land for security, yet few have legal rights to that land, including the plots on which they live and raise their children. Karnataka is one state in India that has attempted to increase women’s ownership of government-distributed housing benefits.

The following study was conducted by the The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Rural Development Institute (RDI) to examine the effectiveness of laws in the state of Karnataka in empowering women with property titles in their names.

Read a short summary, or access the full report here.

3. Larger Homestead Plots as Land Reform

Land reform legislation in India, inspite of best intent has been unsuccessful in alleviating poverty. Plaguing millions of households, rural landlessness continues to be the greatest indicator of poverty in India, with 68 percent of the poor being landless. However, there are several examples of cost effective and viable solutions that address the land distribution issue effectively. International experience has shown that homestead and garden plots offer substantial benefits to poor, rural households, offering them a lot more than just a roof over their head.

A field study published in the Economic and Political Weekly, examined and summarised relevant international experience and recent field research in India, demonstrating benefits of amply-sized homestead and garden plots, based on experiments in other countries, and replicated successfully in the southern state of Karnataka in India. The study was conducted by the Rural Development Institute, supported by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, and the National Institute of Rural Development.

Read a summary ,or access the article here.

4. Improving Land Access for India’s Rural Poor

There is an urgent need to review why India’s poorest households still struggle to secure land tenures and to see if current laws have indeed protected them. This paper, was co-published by the Rural Development Institute and the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in the Economic and Political Weekly to understand the intricacies and effectiveness of land reforms in India. The paper analyses the evolution of land reform policy in India over the years and highlights broad lessons for informing policy paths ahead. It seeks to identify, and promote debates on issues for consideration, with the objective of encouraging concrete action to benefit the nation’s landless.

Read a summary, or access the article here.

5. Measuring the Gender Asset Gap

While a strong linkage between ownership of productive assets and individual well-being has been established, economic research has invariably focused on the family unit as a whole rather than examining the well-being – or the lack of it – of each of its individual components. As a result, a lot of data and analysis tends to focus on disparities within societies at large, but ignores the divide within the household, more particularly, the sharp differences between males and females.

With a view to understanding this economic gulf within the unit, the Centre for Public Policy and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, jointly conducted a study entitled ‘Karnataka Household Asset Survey 2010-11: Measuring the Gender Asset Gap’ (KHAS). The survey has, for the first time in India, quantified what women and men own, for a wide range of physical and financial assets. And this in turn, has shown the extent and nature of the gender asset gap.

Read a summary, or access the full report here.