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   Taming the Anarchy
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
06 Apr 2010

Method in madness

It is only during the last five decades that groundwater has become the mainstay of Indian economy, over 85 per cent of drinking water and 60 per cent of irrigation supplies are now dependant on it. Wide availability of affordable water extraction devices triggered this dramatic turnabout from a canal-based irrigation economy of the colonial era. However, it helped poor farmers break free of the hydraulic limits imposed by gravity and open channel flow.

The technology that helped rural poor from droughts and famines has become its nemesis, threatening already depleted aquifers through over-draft and pollution. In the absence of effective legislation, unregulated groundwater extraction has created unprecedented groundwater anarchy. The situation is far more serious than it may seem, the social and economic consequences of shrinking groundwater reserves could be devastating.

Tushar Shah prisms the groundwater anarchy from economic, political and historical perspectives to argue that the state and the water bureaucracy have become mute spectators to the crises that is fast unfolding. The book lists a series of out-of-box solutions that may only help transform inhumane anarchy into humane anarchy provided the out-of-sync water bureaucracy is willing to shed its colonial civil engineering mindset.

Taming the Anarchy is an authoritative treatise on groundwater governance that offers incisive insights and powerful ideas for planners and policymakers to rid the region of its groundwater madness. The book warrants wider readership, should a popular version be available.

Taming the Anarchy
By Tushar Shah, Routledge, New Delhi, 310 pages, Rs 695


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Commentators
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
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