Keeladi – Life, Death and Water in Ancient India

Back to the Future: Keeladi and the centrality of water in an ancient Indian city. About 13 kilometres east of Madurai, on the spanking new Rameswaram highway, one turns right and heads through a sleepy village to a set of coconut farms. In between the coconut trees are patches of cleared ground with neat squares …

Continue reading Keeladi – Life, Death and Water in Ancient India

The curious case of Delhi – water-starved but unwilling to vote for water governance

What is the appropriate time and the appropriate scale at which to deal with water issues in a democracy? A Question of Scale Let’s start with scale first. If it is to do with provision (and division) of waters – the answer is to deal with it at high a level as relevant. Consider Delhi …

Continue reading The curious case of Delhi – water-starved but unwilling to vote for water governance

What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 5/5

Solution#2 for cities: Decentralized Sewage Treatment What to do and when to do it: Managing water in Indian cities is hard. Our water philosophy has thus far largely rested on grabbing a higher share from reservoirs or desalination – i.e., we’ve pinned our hopes on centralized provision rather than decentralized management. However, in the land …

Continue reading What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 5/5

What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 4/5

Solution#1: Rejuvenating cascading systems of tanks in one set of interconnected of tanks. What to do and When to do it: Let’s start with the “When”. The best time to embark on this exercise is right after a major drought. At that time, borewells are likely to be dry, and there will be strong popular …

Continue reading What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 4/5

What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 3/5

(A version of this piece appeared in Bloomberg Quint on Dec 02, 2018) Case Study 2: Telangana The politics of building water resilience – a problem of timelines In Telangana, politics is water, and water defines politics, in a connection that stretches back through the sea of history. The Kakatiya dynasty, who ruled Telangana from …

Continue reading What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 3/5

What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 2/5

Case Study 1: Madhya Pradesh Given the effort to shift all the necessary pieces of the water management equilibrium, governments shift what they can – often only one or two pieces. But, moving some, but not other pieces, can have unforeseen consequences. Such was the case in Madhya Pradesh (MP), the poster-child of sound water …

Continue reading What can we do about India’s water crisis – Part 2/5

What can we do about India’s water crisis? – Part 1/5

(A version of this story appeared in Firstpost on Dec 02, 2018) Of late, I’ve been asked one question above any other: “Is it possible to fix India’s water crisis?”. My answer has been, “Yes, it’s possible.” But is it probable? That is a different story. The story so far… In the course of the …

Continue reading What can we do about India’s water crisis? – Part 1/5

How to get voters to care about water?

A broken service to give the local politician a role, the importance of caste as a means of access, and the ensuing bribery to act as a lubricant. We have an equilibrium in place. Going deeper, lack of competition is one reason for the poor quality of services continuing. But it is not the only one. There is also the lack of data. Data needs to be unavailable, hard to access, or outdated.