Omidyar Network India, on March 19, 2019, announced a Rs 16-crore grant to create a multi-organisation research consortium that will focus on issues linked to secure rights to assets. The grant will fund Brookings India, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Public Finance Policy (NIPFP), to develop evidence-based solutions to address chronic challenges in providing secure access to land, housing and property rights.
The lack of data and intellectual capital about property rights, is creating a huge drain on India’s economic growth potential. Even though India improved its Ease of Doing Business rank to 77, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, it ranks 166 on the ease of registering property. Land, housing and property rights have close links to a number of economic, social and legal factors and are also mired in a lot of administrative complexity. The consortium aims to provide a platform for diverse voices in the field and elevate the discourse around land, housing and property rights, a release said. Also included in the grant is an innovation fund of Rs 3.5 crores, to back proposals from across the country.
“The aim is to have these institutions and hopefully other collaborators in the future, develop in-house expertise on important issues that are relevant for policy makers, build evidence around these issues and propose solutions that can truly improve the lives of people on the ground,” said Shreya Deb, director, investments, at Omidyar Network India.
“The consortium brings together many research institutions and experts. The initiative’s importance cannot be overstated. The knowledge it will generate will break new ground and have a far-reaching impact,” added Ila Patnaik, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP).
Speaking about the grant, Shekhar Shah, director-general of NCAER, said: “NCAER is proud to join this band of land research institutions that Omidyar Network India has brought together. I fully expect that the work we do as a whole, will add up to more than the sum of the parts. As the consortium grows, we will be growing India’s research capacity to deal with challenging land issues. Our own NCAER Land Policy Initiative will break new ground on gauging how the Indian States are doing, on modernising their land records.”
Shamika Ravi, director of research at Brookings India said “Well-defined and secure property rights are fundamental to the economic progress of a society. India’s second generation economic reforms will critically rest on our achievements in this regard,” All participating institutions in the consortium will share their knowledge, as well as their networks and datasets to enable more collaborative learning and research.
“Addressing challenges of land governance and management, lie at the heart of effective urban reform and the achievement of the SDGs in urban India. From universal access to housing and basic services, tenure security for women and making municipalities financially stable, are all linked to a series of land governance reforms that both the state and central governments will need to embrace,” said Aromar Revi, director, IIHS.