Rural Development Institute (A): Should It Tackle the Problem of the Landless Poor in India?

By Kim Jonker, William Meehan III
2007 | Case No. SM159A

The Rural Defense Institute (RDI) was established in the early 1970s to alleviate poverty by securing land rights for the world’s rural poor. The organization had achieved impressive results through research, reform design, policy advocacy, and implementation. By 1999, it had benefited about 70,000 families in countries such as South Vietnam, the Philippines, Russia, and China. In 1999, RDI considered establishing a presence in India. India had the largest population of poor in the world, with a strong link between poverty and landlessness. However, there were a number of problems in areas that RDI’s experience had shown to be prerequisites for success. The case describes RDI’s experience, including previous decisions it had made to not to enter a country, and to exit a country. It describes the environment in India, including the challenges and opportunities when working with governments in developing countries. Finally, it discusses the opportunities and challenges of entering India in order to work for land reform to address the problem of poverty.

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