Sparking innovation in land & property rights through research

Supported by
February 13, 2022

Land & Property Rights X Resilient Livelihoods

Secure land and property rights are an important buffer against the risks and uncertainties faced by the Indian poor. Not only are these rights fundamental in accessing the necessities of life–shelter, food security, income generation–they also provide a means for individuals and communities to recover from exogenous shocks such as evictions, land conflicts, natural disasters, and climate change. Land, especially, is an important resource in India’s largely agrarian economy as it is a safeguard against poverty and provides economic and financial security, rootedness, and social status.

The/Nudge Foundation and Omidyar Network India are committed to supporting research on resilient livelihoods through the pathway of land and property rights through the Research Innovation Program. We invite proposals that enable high-potential research teams to get deeply involved with ground realities and map bottlenecks to inform decision-making. Knowledge generated through this research will in turn help bridge the information gap that is available to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, philanthropists, private consultants, and policy-makers to support and develop meaningful, implementable interventions that result in resilient livelihoods for the economically disadvantaged.

Researchers or teams selected for the Research Innovation Program will be expected to produce:
- at least one journal-level article by the end of the research period
- a document that outlines the impact ladder of the research and strategies to reach relevant audiences
- a limited number of outputs that make their research more accessible (for example, editorials, case studies, policy briefs, workshops, data portals, repositories).

Research Categories

We invite research proposals in the following categories.

Category B

Up to ₹25 lakhs for field research and primary research. The expected turnaround time for research outputs is up to one year.

Category A

Up to ₹6 lakhs for desk research, legal research, and research that utilizes secondary sources or pre-existing data. The expected turnaround time for research outputs is up to six months.

thematic areas

We invite research proposals on the thematic areas below and in closely allied areas.
Applicants are encouraged to integrate a intersectional perspective into their research projects.

Sustainable Livelihoods

Sustainable Livelihoods

a. In what ways does the lack of access to livelihoods produce inequality? What are the forms of inequalities (for instance, related to wages, income, access to food, basic services, or dignity) and vulnerabilities in uncertain livelihoods?

b. While undertaking livelihood-related activities, what are the relationships between government, private sector, political agents, and members of communities, that produce these inequalities?

c. In what ways do these relationships compound the vulnerabilities of the poor? How do these vulnerabilities prevent the poor from bouncing back socially and economically?

d. What is the nature of the intervention needed (for example, in domains of law, policies, governance, tech, and so on) to reflect changing needs, aspirations, and the nature of work itself? Who are the custodians of change, and how can sustenance be fostered through community-led change?
Property Rights, Tenancy, and Land Leasing

Property Rights, Tenancy, and Land Leasing

Property rights encompass a range of short and long-term legally bound or societal relationships between individuals & institutions including (i) In spatial terms--ownership, tenancy, and/or occupation of land and property (ii) Formal, informal or illegal relationships between employer and employee, and mutual obligations embedded in the arrangement.

Based on the above interpretations of property rights:
a. What are social and economic circumstances under which ambivalence in the right to land and property causes exploitation? Alternately, what societal conditions overcome structural barriers of caste, religion, and gender to produce egalitarian access to property rights?

b. What are sites of extractive or mutually constitutive relationships (for example, bonded labour, informal employment arrangements, contracts by platform economies, displaced project-affected people, occupancy of land by the homeless, and so on)? Who specifically are the actors involved in these cases- public, private, civil society, communities--and what is the nature of the relationship between actors?

c. What is the nature of vulnerability or privilege produced through ineffective execution of property rights? Who bears the risk and benefits?

d. What are the market and non-market linkages needed to facilitate equal access to the property so as to promote livelihoods, fiscal and financial empowerment of individuals and families? What types of policy or societally led innovations have been effective in enabling property rights and the right to resilient livelihoods?
Environment & Natural Resources

Environment & Natural Resources

a. What are the nature of interdependencies between resilient livelihoods, security of land and property rights, and sustainable usage of the environment and natural resources?

b. How are sustainable livelihoods impacted by changes to the use of land, especially due to increased impetus for infrastructure development projects or sites of manufacturing? More specifically, how are rights to land and occupancy of local/indigenous communities affected by development interventions?  

c. What are the strategies deployed by affected people to empower and safeguard themselves against external threats? Are there examples of how affected people and parties have cultivated trust-based relationships to advance sustainable livelihoods?

d. How can these strategies be understood as process innovations? In what ways could they be translated as scaleable innovations by a variety of stewards to alleviate the vulnerabilities of affected communities?
social and economic empowerment of women

Social and economic empowerment of women

Women’s rights to property are often hampered by social norms, customs, and legislation, which inhibits their ability to climb out of poverty. In India, 78% of female workers are employed in agriculture. However, they are routinely denied rights to the land they cultivate and support their families with. Property rights for women enable them to build their livelihoods, cater to the welfare of their children, and provide security during desertion, divorce or widowhood. We invite research that studies models and solutions that have economically empowered women using the vehicle of property rights, and in turn also given them agency in social and political spheres.

Grant Details

Grant amount

Category A - ₹ 3-6 lakhs
Category B - ₹ 25 lakhs


Category A - up to 6 months
Category B - upto 1 year

Types of research

Qualitative or quantitative research, bias for technology

WHO CAN apply

Individuals, centers of research, nonprofits, collaboratives

Application Process

Round one

Open for all

Deadline: 13 February 2022

Submit research concept note.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited
to submit detailed proposals.

Round TWO

Shortlisted applicants

Deadline: 3 weeks after shortlist notification

Submit detailed proposals.
Up to 15 proposals will be reviewed
by the expert jury.

Round three

Final shortlist

First week of April

Presentations to expert jury.
Proposals selected will receive research support



research proposals will be selected for grant awards by our distinguished panel of jury members.


For queries, please email us at

What will the research lead to?

High-quality research facilitated by the Research Innovation Program will be made available to potential problem-solvers in the ecosystem for land and property rights including entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, investors, donors and policy-makers.

Will my research proposal be shared with anyone?

The research proposals will only be viewed by the selection committee, including the The/Nudge Team and the jury. It will not be shared with anyone else, and will be treated as confidential.

What are the criteria used to shortlist grant proposals?

The criteria used to shortlist grant proposals are:

Quality and integrity - does the proposal clearly define the research questions, activities, methodologies, and target audience? Is the need to use certain methodologies used through the course of the study well-supported?

Impact - is there clarity and significance of the impact of the proposed activities? is the research solution-oriented and will it lead to action?

Team - does the team demonstrate strong knowledge of the problems they are addressing and an understanding of the setting in which their research innovations will be tested?

Innovation - Is the research about innovative practices or will the findings of the research make room for innovations that are easier, faster, less costly, or more feasible to implement/replicate.

Intersectional perspective - does the research integrate an intersectional perspective of gender, caste, class, religion and so on?

How are you making accommodations for Covid - 19?

We understand that it may be difficult and unsafe to conduct field research at the moment. Therefore, we have introduced smaller grants that can be used for desk research, legal research or research from secondary sources.

We are keen to receive applications where the researchers have devised innovative primary research methodologies that are safe, rigorous and circumvent the pandemic. In case this is not possible, we are also open to funding the research only once it safe to be in the field.

My research proposal requires funding that does not fit Category A or B. will you still consider it?

We understand that different types of research require different amounts of funding. If we are convinced that your research is valuable, we can consider supplemental funding or partnering with other organizations that fund research. If you still have a doubt, please email

My research timeline does not fit category A or B. will you still consider it?

Yes, we will consider it. Please write a strong justification for the timeline you have chosen in the research proposal.

My topic of research is not mentioned in the thematic areas. can I still apply?

Yes, you can. however, the research must have a direct linkage to land and property rights, and be closely aligned to the thematic areas mentioned above. if you still have doubts about your research topic being eligible for the grant, please email

winners | 2020 - 21

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