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Benefits of changes on the lines of NGDRS

One of the earliest theories of economics is 'subsidiary theory'. This principle states that every function of the state should be done at the lowest possible level of government. According to this logic, mosquito control should be done at the city level while securities, market regulation should be done at the central level. A federal vision is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. There is a lot of diversity in the country and every place is capable of finding solutions to local issues. At the same time, a certain level of homogeneity as a nation helps in economic modernization, helps in synchronizing with globalization and also helps in achieving greater economic status.

Computer technologists tend to be lenient in considering systems involving interrelationships and interactions for a variety of systems. They propose that it will be possible to develop APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and data standards once a system is developed from the lower level to the upper level. Through these, high level of interoperability can be achieved.

The 'Central' list of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution defines the area in which the central government can work. In some of these subjects, while the Center enjoys legal powers, co-operation with the states is also necessary to complete the work. Expansion and modernization of Bangalore airport and Konkan Railway project are examples.

The next level is that of the 'follow-up list'. Where the Constitution gives priority to the Centre. Even though the central government has legal powers to deal with problems like land acquisition, it would be prudent to cooperate and discuss with the state governments.

Finally comes the 'State List' where the legislative powers rest with the state government and the central government's role is only to advise and provide funds. Beginning with the Planning Commission, the central government linked the flow of resources to the states with the acceptance of the central policy approach to build their role in these areas. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is an example of this. Land is a subject of remarkable importance and complexity from the federal point of view regarding the constitution. It is the most important asset in all countries. Adopting economic economy in land use brings huge benefits to GDP. The existing institutions monitoring land ownership and contracts are not doing well. About two-thirds of the pending legal cases in the country are related to land ownership.

The land records of the state include records of rights, transfer deeds and spatial records. There are problems with data quality in government information, pending claims settlement, and lack of integration or consistency between different departments of the local government.

The land records management, land rights, landowner and tenant relationship and rent collection are individual functions of the state in the constitution. Several states including Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have done remarkable work in improving these institutions. The Digital India Land Records Modernizing Program (DI-LRMP) program was launched by the Central Government in 2008. The intention was to computerize the land records, integrate the registration with the land record maintenance system and aggregate it with the spatial data.

In its implementation there is a strange mix of the State Subject and the Subsequent Subject. A part of the Central Legislation i.e. the Registration Act 1908 is prominent in the matter of registration of documents. Since it is in the follow-up list, there are several amendments to the Act, state wise. Progress in institution building in this area requires solutions that can deal with these complexities both in the local situation and in the institutional scenario.

An important milestone in this direction is the National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) which was launched in 2016 under the DI-LRMP. NGDRS is a flexible software that brings together all the stakeholders in the registration process. It works with a design where states are allowed to modify it according to local needs. Exemplifying the strong practice of cooperative federalism, the NGDRS was developed by the Central Government with the active participation of the States.

NGDRS can link the land records with the database of financial institutions, revenue offices, income tax offices, Unique Identification Authority of India etc. In this way a new level of transparency can come in the ownership of land. This simplifies the registration and also the supply of documents. It has many properties with the help of which it can adjust to the specific needs of the states. It includes a database of assets that cannot be bought or sold. For example land in tribal areas, government land and mortgaged land. It has been started in 12 states including many opposition ruled states.

These are important developments in the case of land. Policy makers at the level of cities and states and at the central level need to continue to think and innovate so that the process of finding solutions related to specific local conditions in this difficult region continues and databases and transactions can be recorded in such a way that national and global companies can access it and at the same time protect the power and importance of local government. This will require researchers and policy makers who have a deep grasp of and interact with each other in one place at a time.

Digital initiatives have taken place in other regions of the country as well. In such a situation, having the data of the people at the individual level in the hands of the state government is a specific challenge. Apart from achieving the goal of seamless transactions and reducing disputes, there is a need for comprehensive work on data privacy in this area, which has emerged as a major challenge in India and other regions. There is a need to strike a balance that can limit losses. Geo policy researchers and data privacy policy believers need to come together to take this to the next level.


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