The Indian School of Business (ISB) is leading a new Tenure Facility initiative to scale up the land and forest rights of indigenous and forest-dwelling communities under the 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA). The initiative, which launched in January 2018, aims to secure the rights of 5,000 villages over 1 million hectares of community forestland. The potential for upscaling across India is immense: full implementation of the FRA could secure community tenure and jurisdiction over 32 million hectares of forest claimed by 150 million tribal and forest-dwelling people living in 170,000 villages. The project aims to scale what would be one of the largest land reforms in the world.
ISB’s partners are the research and policy advocacy group Vasundhara and the Society for Rural, Urban and Tribal Initiative (SRUTI). The partnership is uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of the FRA in India. The project is led by the India School of Business—possibly the first time that business leaders have led an initiative to advance the land and forest tenure rights of indigenous and local communities. ISB will support the project by developing monitoring systems and a data portal, while leading engagement with the private sector. Vasundhara and SRUTI, the partners directly interfacing with communities, have a long record of working on women’s empowerment. Vasundhara has long promoted women’s active involvement in both community forest rights recognition and governance. Similarly, SRUTI fellows have been strongly involved in women’s empowerment issues in their grassroots work.
The project is focused on priority districts in Chhaattisgarth, Jharkhand, and Odisha, and expected to spread to surrounding “catchment districts” that have already expressed interest, before scaling up nationally.
For the full story of the fight to secure community land and forest rights in India go to the India timeline. To learn more about the initiative visit the India country page, and our project portfolio.