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   Yamuna Manifesto
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
28 Feb 2014
iver Thames to London in 1858 is the river Yamuna to Delhi now. The only difference being that the Indian Parliament is not close enough for its curtains to be soaked in lime to stop the stink emanating from the waste-laden river from disrupting the proceedings, as had happened in London then. Could its distance from the seat of power be the reason for gross neglect of the river which, for most part of the year, qualifies to be no more than an open drain?

Neither is there a policy in India to ensure continuous freshwater flow in perennial rivers nor a law to protect a flowing river from being used as an open drain. Net result is that far from harnessing its ecological munificence, the glacier-fed river of immense cultural significance is being allowed to be wasted away in the capital. Official apathy notwithstanding, a motley group of ecologists have drawn together a 'manifesto', a declaration on plight of the river and views on its preservation. Published to commemorate an Indo-German outreach project on river Yamuna in India and Elbe in Germany, the bilingual manifesto offers a multi-disciplinary perspective on everything one would have liked to know about the river.

It is quite unlikely; however, if the veritable decline of the river will be reversed anytime soon. Neither has there been a public outcry against its continuous deterioration nor a political resolve to bring the river back to life. Even a child knows that for a river to flow it should have an adequate amount of freshwater all the year round. And unless the city stops pouring untreated sewage into it, the river will continue to remain an open drain. Penned down by two river experts, Himanshu Thakkar and Manoj Mishra, the manifesto offers suggestions that can be worked to create a way forward. It stops short of recommending ‘tough’ measures, though.

Had Charles Dickens been alive, he wouldn't have been shy in describing Yamuna as 'a dark, stinking sludge, and the scene of petty crimes.'

Yamuna Manifesto
by Ravi Agarwal and Till Krause (Eds)
Toxics Link/SANDRP, New Delhi
Extent: 122, Price: Not Indicated

 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

The Kingdom at the Centre of the World
Posting Date: 02 Jan 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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