Individual tenure rights, citizenship, and conflicts: Outcomes from tribal India's forest governance

Bose, P.


This paper examines how the new Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 shapes tribal households' claims to forest land rights in tribal India. It analyses the micro-dynamics of the Forest Rights Act using three dimensions: individual tenure rights, citizenship, and conflict to discuss the contested nature of household-level tenure rights to forest land. The arguments are based on data collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews from six Bhil tribal villages in Banswara district, Rajasthan. The findings indicate that the forest tenure reform promoted the individualisation of forest right claims – thereby increasing Bhil tribal inter-household-level conflicts – and that households' forest land tenure claims relate primarily to the formal recognition of their citizenship rights. The paper suggests that one of the priorities for a way forward is to work towards harmonising the government's own contradictory policies, and avoid competition between line departments.