IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 20th August, 2016
TOPIC:General Studies 3
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
No getting away from water scarcity
Summer and Water- Crucial links
As soon as the summer arrives every year, there are heartening stories about the water woes of people in the country.
For the time being, all temporary and permanent innovative solutions are discussed to solve the problem.
However, once the monsoon arrives, all is forgotten.
Depleting water resources is not a concern of a season.
With increased monsoon unpredictability followed by wide spatial distribution of rainfall resulting into draught and flood in same year is a grave issue.
In such a situation, long term water management, water conservation planning is needed and not seasonal approaches
World Resources Institute (2015): about 54 per cent of India is water stressed. The water scarcity is affecting every part of the country
A recent global study found that: two-third of the global population lives with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. More alarmingly, nearly half of those people live in India and China.
World Bank estimate: By 2030, India’s per capita water availability may shrink to half from the 2010 level of 1,588 cubic metres per year.
This will push India from ‘water scarce’ category to the ‘water stress’ category
World Bank Report (2016): High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy cautions: Countries that lack a sufficient amount of water could see their GDPs decline by as much as six per cent by 2050.
Central Water Commission (2016): Live storage available in the 91 reservoirs was 54.419 BCM, which is much less compared to last year’s storage position of 59.100 BCM
Perennial rivers such as the Ganga, Godavari and Krishna have dried up at variouslocations.
Scientific study 2015: Water level in the Indus Basin is falling by 4-6 mm/year, while the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin is falling by 15-20 mm/year.
India’s agriculture sector withdraws a considerable amount of water from these two giant groundwater aquifers. Hence, their rapid depletion is worrying.
Standing Committee on Water Resources– “Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies” (2012-13): Municipalities and Panchayats have encroached upon small water bodies that help to capture, conserve and store whatever little rainfall the region receives.
Dams’ storage capacity is decreasing because of accumulation of silt for several years
CWC: average dry density of deposited sediment was about 1191 kg/cu m in 21 reservoirs.
India experienced its worst hydrological crisis in Summer of 2016
The water level in the 91 major reservoirs of the country was alarmingly low.
More than a quarter of country’s population, spread across 254 districts in 10 States, was affected.
In western India, Maharashtra and Gujarat’s small and medium reservoirs were completely dried up.
In southern India, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were declared drought-hit.
The unconventional response taken by government included
Railway wagons were deployed to transport about 500,000 litres of water a day across the Deccan plateau traversing more than 300 km to provide relief to the drought-stricken district of Latur in Maharashtra.
The authorities in Latur invoked Section 144 of CrPCà it barred the assembling of more than five persons near wells and water collecting sources to prevent problems.
However, the unconventional solutions are not permanent answers to increasing water availability problems
Agriculture’s stressful trend
CWC’s report (1993): rapid growth in population + increasing economic activities= tremendous pressure on the available water resources
Sadly, 23 years later, the same man-made factors are held responsible for the ongoing water crisis.
Climate change is not to be blamed alone when indiscriminate groundwater withdrawals for irrigating water guzzling crops is always reported.
India has to worry about its water scarcity more than any other country in the world
Reason: India has an agrarian economy, where agriculture has close nexus with abundant water needs.
Farmers are finding it difficult to manage their crop cycles due to non-availability of water.
Unavailability of water is one of the main reasons of farmer suicides, particularly in many regions of Maharashtra
Farmers from Marathwada are forced to migrate to other parts of the State in search of jobs.
Census (2011):number of farmers in India has decreased by about nine million in the past 10 years.
The critical consequence will be: India’s food security will be at stake with the subsequent decline in the area under cultivation and crop production.
Inevitable water management
Water has to be looked from perspective of shared resources
All the stakeholders must play their respective role that entails individual and collective responsibility.
Stockholm Water Prize winner Rajendra Singh’s initiative: to revive the natural flow of both surface and underground water in Rajasthan which in turn made the villagers create their own ‘river parliaments’.
It helped them to sustain water commons.
The need is to secure the water supplies and improve the efficiency of water usage
It can be done through
Reviving and renovating small water bodies,
Propagating rainwater harvesting and watershed management
Popularising more effective irrigation techniques
These methods have to be followed throughout the year and not intermittently for best results
Time to come out of conventional thinking of designing and building dams with large storage capacity so as to combat climate change.
Though it is not possible to totally avoid or stop siltation, the catchment area treatment (CAT) can be followed
CAT involves: plantation and check dams in the degraded portions of the catchments so as to reduce the silt coming into the reservoirs.
Reduction in leakage from poorly maintained canal systems should be ascertained.
Water scarce states should be prohibited from growing water guzzling crops such as sugarcane.
The water conservation and management steps have to be taken at the earlies to prevent ‘water-conflicts’ becoming a routine in India.
Connecting the dots:
Inspite of water being known as ‘life’, we are lethargic in maintaining our ‘life’. Critically analyse the effects of water scarcity in India.
Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
General studies 2
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-I)
While addressing the national conference of Dalit Entrepreneurs (held in Dec 2015), the Modi government had bet on Dalit empowerment initiating several measures to boost entrepreneurship among youth, and especially among Dalits.
The conference was organised by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of father of the Indian constitution Dr B R Ambedkar.
The Prime Minister had said that financial inclusion is at the core of the Government’s focus, which is to create job creators, not job seekers.
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana and Venture Capital Fund scheme have been started to encourage first generation Entrepreneurs.
PM had said that ‘rapid industrialization and Dalit capitalism will lead to Dalits advancement’.
The Modi government has also bet on Dalit empowerment via the market in the form of its Stand Up India initiative, launched earlier this year.
DICCI also focuses on entrepreneurship, as it believes that ‘Dalit Capitalism’ will help Dalits rise to the top of social pyramid.
(Dalit capitalism refers to control of production units by Dalit. In other words, it refers to Dalits carrying out their own businesses and welcoming the economic reforms and globalization with open arms, and getting themselves along with the capitalist class and market forces.)
The message given in the conference raised many concerns for Dalits as to whether they should embrace its version of ‘Dalit capitalism’, what DICCI calls ‘Be Job Givers’, or continue their struggle for emancipatory ideals as advocated by Babasaheb Ambedkar and other organic Bahujan leaders.
Therefore, this article deals with the analysis “whether Dalit Capitalism is the best bet to emancipate Dalits”.
Proponents of ‘Dalit Capitalism’ argue that
Engagement with capital, or what they call ‘Dalit Capitalism’, will make dalits better off and increase their economic well-being and make them less dependent on upper castes for employment.
It aims to emancipate them from the shackles of poverty and as wage labourers of upper castes and intends to prepare them to become potential capitalists who in turn will employ other dalits.
Therefore, there have been organised attempts by organisation like DICCI, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on many fronts.
However when we critically analyze, there are some unanswered questions which the government and DICCI should focus upon if the actual emancipation has to take place.
First, how this class consciousness of the dalit capitalist will replace ‘caste consciousness’ of the upper caste capitalist?
Even if a dalit succeeds in accumulating capital, his relative positioning in the Indian society as ‘Dalit’ doesn’t change and he is still treated as Dalit (considering the social stigmatization that is still widespread), the only difference is it makes him a ‘Dalit Millionaire’.
Would improvement in material assets or wealth of dalits ensure well-being of dalits in public life or society?
Would it really contribute to larger welfare of entire dalit population or simply of a few people in the dalit community? How does it plan to engage with gender relations within dalit community?
Can dalit entrepreneurs who advocate capitalism find business opportunities with non-dalit business counterparts or would they just depend on their networks that are engaged in low value added production?
To find answers to these questions, it is necessary to understand capital and labour in relation to caste in India.
Caste and Labour
Labour is integral to the capitalist economy which cannot be imagined without it.
Labour in the modern economy requires a specific set of skills and capacities to claim well paid white collar jobs and this white collar sector seems to be highly dominated and regulated by the so-called dominant castes in the social hierarchy of India.
This embeddedness of social identities within the economic structures and institutions results in unequal and highly unjust outcomes and deprives opportunities and benefits to disadvantaged groups‘ viz. dalits in the hierarchy.
It is clearly visible among dalits because of denial of their entry in key opportunity structures and institutions aimed towards developing various capacities and highly skilled human capital producing higher productive outcomes, in the past.
The present situation of Dalits in Indian economic scenario is a reflection of unevenness and highly skewed distribution of assets and means of production as a result of the caste system.
Babasaheb points out in ‘Annihilation of Caste’,
A man’s power is dependent upon –
social inheritance or endowment in the form of parental care, education, accumulation of scientific knowledge, which enables individual to be more efficient than the savage, and finally
on his own efforts.
It is important to note here that individual efforts come third and the first two factors become more important in order to be able to compete in the market.
The fundamental principle of demand and supply in economics is violated in Indian labour market as the very process of human capital formation, through imparting necessary skills through education and providing access to spaces where the individual can enhance his skills, gets fractured in the Indian experience as a result of caste.
In the socially hierarchical system based on caste in India, the functioning of the labour market is highly influenced by ascribed characteristics like caste, ethnicity, sex which play a critical role for acquiring essential skills like education, occupation or behavior patterns; this produces unequal market outcomes.
Consequently, the assumption that market undermines identities is proven wrong and caste becomes crucial a determinant in the market in India.
Dalits occupy a different place in production chain and are found to be at the bottom of the ladder characterizing low productivity, survival activities etc. As a result, entrepreneurship for social mobility remains an unattained dream in India.
Knowledge intensive production systems are dominated by upper castes and dalits serve only as wage labourers in these production structures.
Majority of dalits today continue to live on subsistence wages and are found working in informal labour market arrangements, both in the rural and urban areas.
Skill difference between SC/ST employees leads them to doing unskilled jobs in construction and other high labour intensive industries as opposed to the higher castes who occupy skilled jobs at production sites. Their dependency for survival on upper castes is more visible in rural area and invisible in urban regions.
Due to discrimination faced in labour markets and lack of necessary skills to enter into so-called white collar employment, dalits consider self-employment as a route to escape from poverty and see it as an alternative to wage employment. This leads them into setting up of small ventures such as pan patari shops, tea stalls etc. – petty enterprises or any self-employed activity which is unsustainable and risky in terms of job security.
The sectorial pattern of businesses that dalits are involved in remains considerably unchanged with some exceptions and is driven by caste-gender configurations.
Dalits association with traditional stigmatizing occupations (leather work) continues to exist, though it has declined, it exists in different forms.
The surplus produced with the help of laborers, a significant section of whom are dalits, accrues to the owners, mainly upper castes.
Similarly, dalits who become capitalists by exploiting the labour power of their own caste mates, allowing them entry into a wealthier class, will be leaving their own people in the same labouring caste/class.
P.S.:Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-II) will be covered in upcoming days