Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bill gets it wrong

Bill gets it wrong

Bill gets it wrong

Bill Gates says half the kids in the world who don’t get vaccines are in India. This is odd since India supplies 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines and about 80 per cent of annual UN vaccine purchases come from India. Clearly vaccines produced in India are not used where they are needed most. The government, private sector, and philanthropists should ensure India is vaccinated before we cater to needs abroad.

Don’t trust the Govt to do it

Don’t trust the Govt to do it

Don’t trust the Govt to do it

A senior policy analyst and governance expert from Singapore was in town recently. He was talking of how development is as focused as it is in his island country while we continue to have the anarchy that we have here in India. He talked of how good governance and an accountable bureaucracy is simply impossible in India for the next 15 years if, that is, we assume that a new crop of young administrators will want to break the ‘analysis paralysis’ that we have on policy and implementation.

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Can we learn from this rich past?

Can we learn from this rich past

Can we learn from this rich past

When you travel the dry water parts districts of the Rann of Kutch, you would be moved by the hospitality of the locals who offer lotas of water and jaggery with a smile—and refuse to take money for it.

The practice resonates across the region, of earning punya by quenching thirst of all beings—human, animal or avian. An enduring monument to the practice is the queen’s stepwell (Rani-Ki-Vav) near Patan, a richly sculpted monument originally famous for its seven-story magnificence. The five steps that remain today are a mute testament to the compassionate vision of the widowed queen Udaimati of the Solanki dynasty. Although she got it made to perpetuate the memory of her husband Raja Bhimdev, it was the queen who became immortalized.

This is no Sci-fi story

ZED - This is no Sci-fi story

This is no Sci-fi story










By 2030 it is not difficult to imagine a situation where we have made no progress in providing basic water services in any parts of the poor third world. We would not have made or created laws to protect source water. We would not have forced industry and industrial agriculture to stop polluting water systems with fertilizers and pesticides. We would not have done anything to curb the mass movement of water by pipeline, tanker, and other diversions which will have created huge new tracts of desert.

Desalination plants will treat the world’s oceans, many of them run by nuclear power. Company-controlled nano technology will clean up sewage water and sell it back to private water suppliers and utilities. They will in turn sell it back to us at a huge profit. The rich will drink only bottled water found in the few remaining uncontaminated parts of the world. The rich will suck from the clouds by company-controlled machines, while the poor will die in increasing numbers from lack of water.

This is not science fiction, this is where the world is headed unless we dramatically clean up. It is a moral and ecological, and strategic imperative if the world’s people have to last beyond the next 15 years.

Is anyone listening in on the water crisis?

Is anyone listening in on the water crisis?
All things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There is no such thing as a free lunch, nature bats last. These are the four laws of ecology.

These come to mind when you think of the three scenarios that are emerging on water across India and the rest of the developing world that is seeing much of the damage.

Scenario 1: The world is seriously running out of fresh water. It is not a question of money needed to reach out to people living in water-stressed regions of our world. We are polluting, diverting, and depleting the earth’s limited water resources at a dangerous and steadily increasing rate. The abuse and displacement of water is the ground-level equivalent of green house gas emissions. It is likely to be as great a cause of climate change as carbon emission is.

Scenario 2: Daily more and more people are living without access to clean water. As the crisis of ecology deepens, the human crisis is also deepening. More children are killed by dirty water than by war or malaria or HIV and traffic accidents combined. The global water crisis is the most powerful symbol of the growing inequality in the world. While the wealthy enjoy boutique water any time, millions of poor have access only to contaminated water from local rivers and wells.

Scenario 3: A powerful corporate water cartel is emerging. They are seizing control of every aspect of water for their own profit. Companies deliver drinking water and take away waste water. They put massive amounts of water in plastic bottles and sell it to us at exorbitant prices that we are willing to pay. Companies are building sophisticated technologies to recycle our dirty water and sell it back to us. Companies extract and move water in huge pipelines from rich aquifers and watersheds to sell to big cities and industries.

Companies buy, store, and trade water on the open market like selling candies. Companies want governments to deregulate water sector and allow the market to set water policy. Every day they get closer to this goal, the worse the human crises will get on water.

Water is a human right, right?

Water is a human right, right
The global water justice movement is coming together around a common goal: to have water declared a human right and to have this acknowledgement enshrined at every level of government from local regulation, to constitution, to global governance.
Water is not at present a recognized human right. This has allowed decision-making over water policy to shift from the UN and governments, towards global institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Private interests favour the big water companies. The world’s water is continuing to be commodified.
This has left many millions with no legal or moral foundation on which to base their dream that they have the right to enough water for life. Shouldn’t we be saying that Life requires access to clean water, to deny the right to water is to deny the right to life? The fight for right to water is an idea that has to seriously be moved into centerplace. It has become the rallying cry of the water justice movement.
Do we want water cartels? Do we want water as human right?

Two kinds of sides on Water

Two kinds of sides on Water
The other day there was in town a senior water policy expert from Singapore. He was at a water conference, and there were questions from participants on whether it is right to privatize water. He seemed of the view that that is a good way to go. Indeed Karnataka has quietly, without telling the Press, gone with at least 3 towns the private route—giving away water rights to city wards in Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwar and Mysore, with even approval of a former chief secretary and advisor to the chief minister.

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