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The Issue of Equity in Three Institutional Structures in India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ghate, Rucha
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1641
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
joint management--case studies
forest policy
Abstract: "Management of forests by communities has completed a full circle in India. Beginning with 'forests under communal ownership' till 19th century, passing through 'state' ownership during and after the British era, once again the involvement of communities in resource management has come into practice. Real participation of communities as a result of participatory policy adopted by the Government of India varies from state to state and from 'name sake' or 'on paper' participation to decentralization of decision making in real sense. While de jure decentralization in forest management is less than 15 years old, in the form of Joint Forest Management (JFM) in India, there are instances of de facto community managed forests, initiated either by communities themselves or by non-governmental organizations (NGO). This paper is based on primary data collected from three case studies, each representing one of the three types of forest management regimes namely the Governments JFM program, NGO promoted, and community initiated. The data has been collected using IFRI protocols. The three communities are located in central India and are similar in geo- physical, socio-politico-economic and demographic set-up, and hence are comparable. Strategies adopted towards benefit sharing by the three types of management systems are apparently not very different. Although equitable distribution of benefits is an important determinant for collective action to succeed in any types of management regime, the field study revealed that it is not an immediate consideration for the communities for initiating collective action. Despite being a government sponsored, well thought out program, even JFM is insensitive towards distributional aspects as it treats the community as one cohesive group and ignores intra-community. Its emphasis seems to be on 'equality' and not 'equity'."

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