Land Rights and Inclusive Sustainable Development in India

The seminar presents on-going work from an interdisciplinary research project collaboration between the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and the Centre on Law & Social Transformation (CMI-UiB). The project is examining the potential and limits of legal regulations in facilitating inclusive sustainable development in India, as they play out in different social and political contexts.

Venue: Harvard Law School


10:00 Welcome and Introduction
Siri Gloppen Researching Land Rights and Inclusive Sustainable Development in India

10:15 Complexities of Land Rights and Development in India
Namita Wahi and Pallav Shukla

11:30  Dynamics of Land and Development in Meghalaya
Kavita Navlani Søreide and Hugo Stokke

Refreshments will be served. RSVP to

India struggles to construct development paths that generate growth while being socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable. Property rights, environmental regulations, rights protection for vulnerable groups and federal political dynamics are central factors in India’s challenges with development, displacement and environmental sustainability. All these factors have varying effects in different parts of India’s federal multi party political system.

The dilemmas of Indian development are particularly acute with respect to traditional communities, who often risk displacement when the state dispossession land for infrastructure and industrial projects that are seen as core to India’s economic development. The Scheduled tribes, who have special rights, are rich in mineral resources and India’s need to exploit these resources to promote development, have created conflict between the modern state laws and the rights of the Scheduled tribes.

The Sixth Schedule, a special act to protect the traditional communities in the North-East of India, was created to conserve and preserve their vital interests and way of life. But examples in Meghalaya show the complex dynamics set in motion by these laws, and how new challenges emerge as society change. The Indian federation is based on a strong centre. However, Indian federalism is undergoing a process of evolution as the forces of decentralization, liberalization and privatization continue to influence Indian politics, economy and society. In the decades since Meghalaya was established the needs and dilemmas of this hill state has undergone changes creating complicated overlaps and tensions at the interface between the modern state law and the traditional forces and tribal structures. This results in a situation where the most vulnerable people rights falls between the modern state laws and their tribal structures.

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