What Are Property Rights?

Private Property Rights allow people to fully own and employ their assets, land and resources—without interference from the government or any other entity or individual(s).

Property rights are natural rights: which is to say that every individual has an inalienable and moral right over one’s property—regardless of whether it is recognized or adequately protected by the state. Indeed, private property rights have existed since time immemorial—even before organized form of government came into existence. To quote French philosopher and economist Frederic Bastiat: “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

To be sure, Indians do have a right to property. But for many Indians, the right is neither properly defined nor adequately protected. Apart from that, there exist several regulatory restrictions that prevent individuals from freely employing their property.

The lack of secure property rights and regulatory restrictions hurt the poorest among us.

While rich people living in cities have relatively secure titles to their property; the poor in India’s farms, villages and forests do not. If we can secure strong property rights for the poorest among us, it will go a long way in helping them to prosper and escape poverty. Property rights, for millions of Indians, are either not secure or are not well-defined. The following is worth noting-

Compulsory Acquisition: In the last few decades, the state has enlarged the scope of compulsory acquisition—displacing many in the process without adequate compensation or rehabilitation. This has been the source of a lot of discontent among the people, fuelling several grass root movements with people demanding their rights.

Insecure Titles: Millions of Indians lack a clear title to their land, and it is hard to establish your title even if you’ve been living on your land for years. For instance, the land rights of indigenous tribes were not recognized by the state—despite these people living in the land for generations. It is only recently that this historical injustice has been addressed to some degree, but many continue to have insecure titles

Poor Land Records and Administration: The state has not only failed in recognizing the land rights of many citizens, it has also failed in creating adequate mechanisms for people to establish their title. Land records are poorly maintained and are, for most part, not computerized. Land laws are numerous, cumbersome and hard to comply with. Our land administration is complicated and needs to be streamlined.

More About Property Rights In India

What Are Property Rights ?
Importance Of Property Rights
Current Situation In India
Reforms Required
India Property Rights Timeline