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July 28, 2006
Excerpt from an article by Gaurav Gupta in Indian Express dated 28 July 2006
The Australian experience stands as a dire warning not only to the conservationists who are up in arms against this legislation, but most importantly to the Indian adivasis themselves. Experience shows that transfer of land by itself leads to neither a reattainment
of lost culture nor economic gains. In fact quite the opposite has occured- previously productive land has been left desolate once placed in aboriginal hands. The problem has been a lack of education, training and support for aboriginal people to conduct sustainable
deveoplment on the land coupled with a lack of proper incentives. Aboriginal leaders point out that what aborigines really want as first priorities are education and jobs. Transfer of land plays no role in this..... ....
The Australian experience would suggest that we allow adivasis an inalienable right of access to forest for cultural practices (which does not require actual ownership) but look elsewhere for a solution to their economic livelihood. In short, ownership of
land is no longer part of the real concern facing Adivasis and giving it back is certainly not part of the solution...
( Gaurav Gupta can be contacted at Gupta.Gaurav@bcg.com)
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