Tamil Nadu is often lauded for its relatively inclusive governance, compared to other Indian states. In September, Chief Minister MK Stalin boasted that other states wanted to emulate its "Dravidian model", of which social justice was a key aspect.
But such claims obscure a key area in which the state has fallen short: its implementation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006. The act was intended to recognise the rights of some of the country's most vulnerable citizens, its forest dwellers, over land and resources that they had used for generations, before forestry laws criminalised such activity. But it took more than a decade for Tamil Nadu to issue its first titles under the law, and it remains one of the country’s worst performing states in this regard.
Jeff Joseph travelled through Krishnagiri district to meet members of the Irula community who have been cut off from their land. He found that even those who do procure titles for their land are often denied benefits due to them, such as power subsidies, leaving them struggling for a livelihood. You can read the story here.
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