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   Climate Change
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
06 Oct 2011

Concerns about effects

For anyone struggling to comprehend what climate change might mean to life-support systems and policy arena in the sub-continent, Binayak Ray has a comprehensive and authoritative take on it. Not discounting the ideological underpinning of climate sceptics, mounting scientific evidence has guided the author to position ‘effects’ ahead of the possible ‘causes’. That climate change may add to existing mutual suspicion in enhancing regional vulnerability is stark and clear. The region is on a tipping point.

Water is the centrepiece around which Ray builds his political hypothesis of mistrust and suspicion, reminiscent of the cold war era. Will climate change not aggravate internal squabbles and external hostilities against India? Water poverty, manifest within and across the borders, is the emotional trigger that can fuel a million mutinies. At a 2001 Karachi seminar, an emotionally charged delegate had commented that ‘any conflict over water would see Pakistan using its nuclear weapons’.

Such a scenario may be far-fetched but evidence suggests that regional implications of climate change may have serious consequences. The intertwining of water crises with religious diversity, ethnic fragmentation and politically sensitivity makes climate change too hot an issue to handle in isolation. Without resolving trans-boundary issues around water sharing, the impact of climate change in the region would not be easy to fathom. Cumulative impact of climate change on glacial meltdown, river flow regimes and groundwater overdraft could be catastrophic.

The implications of climate crises on social and regional security in the sub-continent are seemingly profound. No other region might be as vulnerable. Climate Change is aptly timed and well researched, nuanced with policy challenges that lie ahead. Ray has grasped the subject to its last digit, producing an important review that uses scientific evidence to build political argument. This book should not only be an essential reading for policy makers but must engage all those concerned with the peaceful co-existences of countries in the region.

Climate Change
by Binayak Ray
Lexington Books, Maryland
234 pages, $45

 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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