In a developing country like India, the development of rural economy through effective and proper management of common property resources (CPRs) such as forests has increasingly become an integral part of sustainable development policy in the past couple of decades.

Access to water and control over it is not only a matter of survival but an issue of democratic participation of all citizens in the management of their country's natural resources, particularly as conflicts over water increase.

The rural world of nineteenth-century Tamil Nadu was highly diversified in terms of land control and ownership. Academic efforts have largely focused on the various claims to

Widespread discontent among the people has plagued the Indian polity for sometime now. It has often led to unrest, sometimes of a violent nature. Over the years, statutory enactments and institutional mechanisms for addressing the various aspects

Access to water and control over it is not only a matter of survival but an issue of democratic participation of all citizens in the management of their country's natural resources, particularly as conflicts over water increase.

This paper is set in the context of a larger development policy debate pertaining to regional inequalities in India. Historically some regions had experienced agricultural prosperity due to their resource endowments especially water. The complementarity between modern inputs and water has boosted the public investments in these regions in order to achieve food self-sufficiency.

The national economy is growing at near double-digit rates but neither industry nor non-agricultural activities in rural India have been able to provide livelihoods for millions of rural workers. It is this failure that underlies the spurt in rural violence that has highlighted once again the issue of the poor's access to land, water and forests. It is gradually being recognised that further deterioration of economic, social and political conditions of the rural poor can neither be arrested nor reversed without a significant policy shift towards a comprehensive land reform programme.

Some recent studies on forest-based common pool resources have interpreted situations in which households choose to spend time on collection from the forest commons for sale and value addition as an income enhancing activity that is independent of the common's role as a safety net. Feb 23-29, 2008

Common lands are an invisible resource from the point of view of revenue classification. The Rajasthan Land Revenue and Panchayati Raj Acts make no mention of issues related to common lands. However, from one perspective it can be claimed that the state has almost half of its total geographical area being put to community use, notwithstanding its specific legal and revenue status.

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