Ever since I read about Hernando De Soto’s work years ago, I’ve been saying that the a major remedy for third world economic problems would be online land registries. Now, BusinessWeek reoprts that its happenning in India! Photon Courier notes
Why is this a big deal? you may ask. Previously, the deeds were controlled by “powerful village accountants.” They typically charged large fees to the poor farmers who needed copies of their deeds–and a farmer might need such copies 2 or 3 times a year when asking for loans (to buy fertilizer, for instance). And sometimes accountants would collude with upper-caste landlords to steal the land by altering the deeds.
In the state of Karnataka, 20 million deeds have been digitized over the past 5 years, and 200 kiosks have been deployed across the state. It now costs the equivalent of 30 cents to get a copy of one’s records–the previous fees from the local accountants were in the range of $2.00 to $20.00.
I would have implemented India’s system differently, but YAY anyway.