Bishwadeep Ghose

The time has come to utilize technology to build resilience of communities by training them to strive for better livelihood opportunities where they want to.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought the world to a standstill. Government, civil society and volunteers are rallying to ensure that social and economic inequalities do not dictate how this crisis draws lines between the “haves” and “have-nots”. Nonetheless, the crisis seems to have deepened the existing divide. Where we stand today, finding a way to address this divide is crucial if we want to see a better world on the other side of this pandemic.

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The new policy needs to build context specificity and have enabling mechanisms for equitable resource allocation.

The way water as a resource has been viewed in the policies of India has evolved significantly over the years. Reduction in per capita availability over the years (5177 to 1463 cubic metres between 1950-2015) has forced every new policy to change the way it has approached its management. It was considered an economic commodity in the second National Water Policy (NWP) drafted in 2002. Finally in 2012, the third NWP recognized the importance of managing water as a “common-pool resource”.

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There is a need to focus on the “first mile” i.e. communities across rural India to be able to ensure sustainability and scalability for piped water supply.

Millions of Indian women can take up to six trips a day to gather and transport water, which takes up a major part of their day. During scorching summers when many sources dry up, their drudgery gets even worse. Stories of girls dropping out of school to share the burden of carrying water are also not unheard of.

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How can India change the game on groundwater management to deal with its overexploited aquifers?

After independence, India was largely food insecure but post Green Revolution around the 1970s, foodgrain production increased manifold consequently reducing food insecurity and poverty in the country, in spite of rapid population growth. Its ability to achieve targeted results was largely dependent on the explosion of groundwater abstraction mechanisms like tubewells.

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