From Forlorn Wastelands to Thriving Commons in India

Jan 23, 2019

Years ago, early in Jagdeesh Rao Puppala’s career, he ran into some trouble with the law in rural western India. He had just returned from a small event where some eminent leaders and villagers had decided to green a patch of derelict land. It was the familiar photo-op of a handful of VIPs...“What the villagers think is their land, the government says isn’t,” says Jagdeesh. “What the villagers see as useful land, the government calls wastelands.” This dynamic, common to many agrarian societies, is a holdover from the colonial era. Land that appeared to have little potential to generate revenue for the queen was given this relegated status.