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   Corporate Water Strategies
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
06 Jul 2011

The business of unending demand

A television producer recently accosted me with an uncomfortable question: Isn’t bottled water a reliable source in water-stressed situations? Loaded as the query was, the answer could well be both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It is a non-issue for those who can afford to pay for it but for 884 million Indians who lack access to safe water supplies a ‘no’ could only be at the cost of their lives.

It makes a perfect case for a business strategy on water, where demand is pledged much before supplies get ensured. Since water as a resource is available to everyone but owned by none, it does create an economic disincentive for stewardship on one hand by simultaneously opening a business incentive for controlling it on the other.

Corporate control on water is a reality that has percolated in our lives; bottled water being one of its many variants. Curiously, however, corporate strategies on water are often flawed on account of over-exploitation of a natural resource that for all practical purposes is in public domain. The much publicized Coca Cola case has set up tension between the public and private sectors.

William Sarni has produced a virtual who’s who on corporate water, enumerating the potential risks by some of the leading water corporations across the world. Corporate Water Strategies is a call to action for every company to move toward water stewardship and constructively engage all stakeholders in crafting 21st century solutions to sustainably managing water.

Citing the example of Singapore, that has been officially classified as ‘water stressed’, Sarni emphasizes how diversified water sources, water reuse, water pricing and water efficiency have been integrated to develop an enlightened water stewardship for the next century. The driving principle for water stewardship rests on it being considered a ‘local’ resource, whose risks and opportunities must be assessed by corporations within the prevailing conditions. Only then can corporate water strategies be effective in managing our limited resource. In the conflicting world of corporate water control, the book is reassuring of a better future.

Corporate Water Strategies
by William Sarni
Earthscan, London
262 pages, $40

 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
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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