India faces serious challenges in constructing development paths that are socially inclusive, ecologically sustainable and politically feasible. Current resource intensive growth strategies have caused serious environmental degradation and endangered the livelihoods of many vulnerable groups, particularly the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional communities. These vulnerable groups rely solely on land and the environment for sustenance. However, underneath these lands lie much sought after natural resources. This research project explores the impact of the current development model and practices, involving intensive agriculture, industrialisation and mining on the rights of vulnerable groups and the environment.
Land rights in India are complex. A myriad of constitutional and statutory provisions regulate the land rights of tribals and other traditional communities. Since land is a state subject in India, there is considerable variation across states with respect to the design and implementation of laws seeking to protect the rights and interests of vulnerable groups. We seek to generate new knowledge and understanding on how these laws impact India’s vulnerable groups in the three states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Meghalaya. The findings will be made openly accessible creating a pool of resources which can help empower groups and inform policy.
The current debate about land rights, Scheduled Tribes and natural resources is highly polarised. One school of thought prefers full rights of indigenous groups and traditional communities to land ownership and self-determination of tribes. Other groups however emphasise the need for natural resources in a developing economy necessary to fuel economic growth and raise the standard of living of the broader population. With our research and public events we bring together a wide variety of highly driven people and institutions to initiate a solution-oriented and balanced dialogue.