Naturenomics Series Volume 5.0 Review by Prof Arup Kumar Sarma
Review of the Book: Reflections on Managing Water: Earth Greatest Water Resources
Prof. Arup Kumar Sarma, IIT Guwahati
Ayurveda says -water is one of the five basic ingredients that forms everything and is essential for survival of any living being. Because of its apparent abundance, this precious ingredient so far is not getting the level of care that it should have received from the mankind-so called most intelligent user of it. We should not forget that only 0.3% of the total available water is found as fresh surface water. Treating water as an ordinary commodity, mankind has polluted it to such an extent that the word “fresh water” perhaps needs to be renamed now as “non-saline water”. Even if we consider water as a commodity, one must plan to ensure its sustainable use for its optimal utilization, considering its demand and availability. While water availability at space and time and of required quality can be engineered by advanced technology, demand is highly dependent on the socio-economic and socio cultural behaviour of the community along with the policy of a country. So, in true sense, “water management” is in itself multidisciplinary in nature and, the book Reflections on Managing Water: Earth Greatest Water Resources, in my opinion, is indeed a great step in this direction and can be regarded as a pioneering work in the Indian context.
The book has rightly emphasized the need of water management for food security (constrained by limited land resources and climate change) of exponentially growing world population. The fact that small initiatives can change the present perspective of water management, being convincingly presented with examples, has made it more interesting. Scarcity is the root cause that forces one to feel deprived. It is true in case of all individuals or even a nation, and therefore water scarcity has started manifesting as a root cause of war and social instability and the situation will worsen if we do not act proactively towards water negotiation. This book has covered this important aspect and has alarmed the bell among the masses. Emphasizing India’s religious traditions, the book has rightly pointed out how India had a very good tradition of caring for water and developing a link between water and mankind in the form of various rituals. To highlight the tradition of “water caring” in India, the book has gone on to elaborate how water always found an important place in Indian films as well as various other cultural festivals. This book has raised some extremely valid questions like why India, even after being blessed with so many rivers, lake, snowy Himalayas, long costal line and monsoonal rainfall, has the fear of water scarcity. It has compelled me to think-is it economic constraint, is it lack of technology or political will or lack of wise management? While some parts of our country suffer from flooding, some others suffer from drought. Can’t we do something to overcome these problems through water management? It has also highlighted that to maintain ecological balance, water management and biodiversity management must go hand in hand. Drawing attention to the need of policy changes with regard to water management, the book has questioned the provisions of our constitution that keeps water as a state subject, and has urged to provide an explicit clause of “right to water”.
Balipara Foundation really deserves an appreciation for its initiative to bring all these issues of water management under a single umbrella and I congratulate them for its successful completion. Authors of this book Indira Khurana, Romit Sen and Shilpi Jain and Editors Ranjit Barthakur and Indira Khurana, deserve an equal appreciation for their pioneering work. I am sure the book will not only be loved by the people, but will also generate the needed awareness among the leaders, educationists, water scientists, policymakers and the masses.