The gender-bias intrinsic to India’s inheritance laws was considered to be one of the main barriers to women equality and empowerment in the country. By limiting women’s ability to inherit land, these laws severely constrained opportunities for women, limiting their access to assets, education and markets. Changes to inheritance legislation, by state-level amendments to the Hindu Succession Act, were seen to redress these inequalities by allowing women to inherit land, thus granting them access to social and economic spheres previously denied to them.
In addition to antiquated legislation, India’s strong tradition of rural land administration faces serious challenges. Meeting these will be critical to allow well-functioning land markets to underpin the rapid structural change which India is currently undergoing. At the same time, the land registration system in urban areas shows serious defects that undermine urban growth and effective service provision. Likewise, the country is experimenting with models of e-governance that could show the way for other parts of the world.