A story in this week’s Newsweek on technology empowerment for better government highlights a web-based land registry system for the Indian state of Karnataka called Bhoomi (land in Hindi). The program has digitized more than 20 million deeds since it started in 2001, helping farmers identify and substantiate their land claims.
Even poor illiterate peasants have a means to verify and substantiate their land claims via computer kiosks throughout the state, and they can perform land transactions via this distributed system without having to travel long distances and wade through bureaucratic and paper-heavy processes. The regular updating of the system forms the basis to enable land reforms, and removes risks from corrupt and powerful land grabbers who have doctored deeds in the past.
Bhoomi was started by a Bangalore engineer named Rajeev Chawla who became an administrator. The program has proved so successful that the Indian government in New Delhi plans to duplicate this program nationwide.