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   Water: Asia's New Battleground
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Apr 2012
said that South Asia is the world’s water scarce region that has continued to squabble over its aquifers and rivers? How frequently have intra-state, inter-state and cross-border contentions been projected as new battleground in the region? And, yet none of the wars thus far in the region has ever been around ‘water’? The crucial question worth exploring from diverse perspectives is: does scarcity lead to conflict or encourages cooperation? While the Indus Treaty has withstood four wars, the Ganges Treaty has remained contentious despite any war being fought over it. But it cannot be said with any certainty that the region will show resilience should the countries fail to resolve their water conflicts.

All said, it will be fair to conclude that this region cannot escape the fact that it is part of the world devoid of any working institutions that can coordinate and integrate choices and that can collectively confront predicaments faced by states and governments – institutions able to sustain any degree of trust between neighboring states. In fact, in their absence, the sub-continent has remained vulnerable to the tyranny of geography.

No wonder, across borders there are joint river commissions to squabble over while provisions of the inter-state dispute redressal mechanism are enough to enrage states over their disputed share of river flows. Inventing new institutional mechanisms that can address the contentions from a regional perspective have been thwarted by the prevailing hydrocracy in the region. Under such a situation, would it not be prudent to draw river basin maps along linguistic lines to trigger a people-to-people engagement on the subject?

Given his background, Brahma Chellaney has viewed the potential water crises from a ‘battleground perspective’ whereas it is the paradox of common cultural lineage amidst mutual political mistrust that needs attention.

Water: Asia’s New Battleground
by Brahma Chellaney
Harper Collins, New Delhi
386 pages, Rs 699

 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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