Don’t Just Blame Climate Change, India’s Drought Is Born Out Of Apathy For The Poor

NEW DELHI — Severe drought conditions prevail at the moment in at least 10 states in India. Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana are all staring at a bleak summer, already experiencing severe water shortage, with at least two months to go for the monsoons.
But droughts are not unique to India. Rich and poor nations across the world are hit by all sorts of calamities, every year, due to reasons such as climate change, the El Nino phenomenon, failed monsoons, unseasonal rains, among others.
The burning question isn’t so much why India is buckling under drought and water shortage, but rather why are the Centre and state governments so paralyzed when it comes to dealing with such crises year after year, and why are they so inept at alleviating human suffering. Such is the state of affairs that the Maharashtra government is preoccupied with preventing large numbers of weary and thirsty people thronging water tankers in order to avert water riots.
While the frequency of extreme weather events is rising because of climate change, experts say that the prevailing crisis is a combination of governance and policy failures which go back decades, and the apathy of the Indian state to the suffering of the poor.
Rajendra Singh, the famous water conservationist from drought-hit Rajasthan, who won the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, said that India’s “manmade drought” is the result of the Indian government’s non-seriousness about water security.
“You have a reserve police, you have a reserve army, but you have no reserve water,” he said. “This is the biggest policy failure.”
Economist H.M. Desarda, who used to serve on the Maharashtra State Planning Commission, described the drought as an “ideological failure” on the part of a nation which had forgotten to value its farmers. “There is rural and agricultural stagnation in Maharashtra,” he said. “While farmers are dying, there are some parts which are enjoying a water intensive lifestyle.”
Earlier this week, the Bombay High Court asked the Mumbai and Maharashtra cricket associations whether it was more important to provide drinking water or to use 60 lakh litres to maintain cricket pitches for the Indian Premier League tournament. Even after calling it “criminal wastage,” the High Court did not stay the first match on April 9, and sought more information on whether the water supplied to the stadiums was potable or non-potable.
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Source: Islamic News Daily

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