To achieve a higher trajectory of economic growth encompassing a comprehensive economic development of a nation requires clearly defined and sound principled public policies on factors of production. The rules of framework permeate the factors of production in the interest of the nation irrespective of any political systems. The fundamental rules of operation would inevitably help us to make use of vital resources effectively such as land, labour, capital, entrepreneurial skills.

Among the key factors of production, the labour and capital have more power of portability as compared to the land which is fixed in nature but it has intrinsic value on its locations. Further, few more precious values of factors of production were added in the modern world, the science of management practices, entrepreneurship skills, innovation, and effective use of precise time as a factor with decision making and risk-taking ability are all important besides the use of modern technologies.

However, the key challenges remain on the terms of use, and misuse of these vital resources.

How do nations make factors of production more efficient? Since independence, the public policies were framed in such a way that challenges posed by the factors of production were not given equal traction to make use of it efficiently and effectively. For instance, for decades, increases in population and human resources were treated as burdensome at worst rather than focal resources for economic development by providing education and skills development.

Moreover, soon after independence, the fundamental right of private property rights was removed quite hastily without even contemplating the importance of it for the economic development of the country in the future. The founders of modern India including Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, and Rajaji had premised the property rights as paramount to achieve economic development and upliftment of the poor.

Similarly, land titling is an enormous systemic issue lingering for decades without amplified governance systems to fix and make effective use of it for nations’ prosperity.  Moreover, the policy of land titling would provide an antidote to most of the urban issues but most government department works in silos. Studies suggest that land-related disputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country (more than three crores). These land disputes include those related to land titles and records, and rightful ownership (Prachee Mishra, Roopal Suhag, September 10, 2018).

It is interesting to note that in his address to the nation on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not say anything about the ambitious vision of making India a 5 trillion dollar economy by the year 2024 which was widely discussed until the COVID-19 hit. But, it is understandable that the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy and dramatically shifted the priorities of the union government to focus on medium-term goals.

Nonetheless, the ramifications of various past and present policies shows that the aggregation of inefficacious factors of production as a systemic factor would be a major challenge posed to the Indian economy apart from the COVID-19 pandemic that would hinder India from achieving its 5 trillion dollar economy vision. One of the major hurdles impinges time and again on the top of the policymaking is that India is still yet to dare dream moving away from the current shackles of land titling systems.

India’s manufacturing sector has been stagnated for decades at least since the embarking of major economic reforms in 1991. This is purely due to lack of policy coherence in areas of land, labour, and capital deployment. During the last three decades, India’s total factor productivity (TFP) growth has been more cyclical in nature with few years’ exceptions preceding 2008 (V. Anantha Nageswaran, March 26, 2019, Livemint).

For a self-reliant India, there needs to be a sound land titling policy put in place. It’s time to take advantage of technologies to foster the blending of sound public policies with equal weight on factors of production.

Another part of the systemic challenge is huge corruption over poor land tilting policies which effectively prevents economic transactions for development and growth. It is especially too complicated in urban areas and cities which restrains every major project for improving facilities and services for the benefits of the entire population.

There are several research studies at national, state, and district levels which show that the poor land titling policy impacts negatively on the country’s economic growth quite significantly. Prime Minister Modi spoke about silos prevailing in the government systems and governance structures. The net losers would be the youth who will be deprived of access to opportunities especially the employment in private sector enterprises.

The real antidote lies not on merely better governance systems through government alone but the most effective use of technology and communication systems. The land digitization process is underway since 2008, although in a slow space. Under Constitution, the subject of land is in the State list but States are not proactive to enact a comprehensive law to make an appropriate framework to govern on land tilting systems. Hence, there is a dire need for the Union Government to bring model legislation for a comprehensive titling system that can unleash the potential of Indian economy and help us increase the pace of realizing an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Views expressed are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research.

This article was first published in The Commune website on August 25, 2020. Click here to read

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Chandrasekaran Balakrishnan
Chandrasekaran Balakrishnan
Chandrasekaran Balakrishnan is Research Fellow (Urban Eco-system and Skill Development) with CPPR. His areas of research interest are economics of education, vocational education and skills development, economic reforms, liberal vision for India, water management, regional development, and city development. Chandrasekaran has an MA in Economics (University of Madras) and an MPhil in Social Sciences (Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya University, Indore).

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