The role of land records in securing property rights

Hello! I recently did field work in a study on land records in India. One of my key takeaways was the the role played by land records in conferring and enforcing property rights. Apart from the fact that in many cases the land records do not mirror ground reality, it was also apparent that a significant number of farmers I interacted with, did not know the contents of the records to their land or the implications of the information in the land records. I’d love to hear from others who may have done similar studies or who are interested in the topic. Thanks!


Hi, @diyauday! I’m very interested in this topic and the property rights. I would like to know if you are continuing your research and if you are doing any legal work in this community. The task of deploying legal knowledge in rural areas, especially to farmers, is quite arduous but essential to improve they quality of life and of their families. Thank you to share this theme and your point of view!


Hi @heloisa! Its always good to find others interested in this area. I agree completely that legal empowerment in rural areas is very important. My personal approach is twofold.

The first is to ensure that there are sound legal frameworks in place that benefit all. This would include a study I had recently conducted in the area of land records. You can find a summary of the findings here (Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme: Assessing impact in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra). The second is of course direct legal empowerment to the people which will include things such as legal aid camps, community training (so we help them help themselves). In India, there are region specific laws with respect to land and its always best to help shape leaders from within the community. Both approaches have their own obstacles.

I would love to hear about what experience has been.

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I would like to invite you to approach Myanmar’s Land Records system from Colonial Era to now. Best Regards, San Lwin Oo.

Hello San_Lwin_Oo. Thank you for your response. Is there an ongoing study on Myanmar?

Hello@Diya I am interested in this topic. Although I have not conducted any research on this area, almost 60 percent of the cases we receive borders on land rights and disputes and most of them have no documents to validate their claims.

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Hello @Laurenkech. I agree completely. In India too a large number of land rights disputes stem from improper recording of boundaries. In our study we found a lot of variation in what was recorded in the records vs. ground reality. In many cases the percentage of deviation was very high. In my experience, these happens because of lethargy in updating records. Further, in some cases, the people themselves has removed the boundary marks and over the years it became unclear as to who owned what. Do you have any interesting anecdotes from your experience that you would like to share?

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Hello@diyauday, The issue of land rights in the communities under my jurisdiction revolves around dis-inheritance, abuse of power as well as discrimination on the grounds of culture and gender. Most of such inhumane acts are against the poor and women. Although there are laws established for protection from such violations and inhumane acts, most times the judiciary and law enforcement agencies makes the process quite rigorous. Nevertheless we are able to record successful stories.Let me stop here.

Hello @Laurenkech. Thank for you sharing your experience and I apologise for not replying earlier. Inheritance is an issue that I saw too. However, not in the sense that I presume from your reply. Inheritance laws are complex and every community in India is governed by personal laws which vary in terms of who the successors will be and how much they get. Often inheritance in families are embroiled in disputes. Even when they do settle these disputes, the revised changes do not necessarily appear on the land record. 30 years down the line, it becomes a subject matter of dispute. On the point of gender inequality, I have an interesting anecdote, where a woman who owned the land did not where is was located because her husband has taken over farming it.