IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 5th August, 2016
TOPIC: General Studies 2
India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
Securing the Indus Treaty
Indus Water Treaty
After independence, Pakistan became the lower riparian country
Two important irrigation head works, one at Madhopur on Ravi River and the other at Ferozepur on Sutlej River, on which the irrigation canal supplies in Punjab (Pakistan) had been completely dependent, were left in the Indian Territory.
A dispute thus arose between two countries regarding the utilization of irrigation water from existing facilities.
Brokered by World Bank, the Indus Water Treaty was signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan.
Water sharing, transparency and collaboration were the pillars of the treaty.
Why in news?
Pakistan has shown its intent to take India to an International arbitral tribunal- Again
It indicates how water still remains a discord for Pakistan even when there is a water sharing treaty signed.
International water sharing treaties
In Asia, the vast majority of the 57 transnational river basins have no water-sharing arrangement or any other cooperative mechanism.
However, India has water sharing treaties with both the countries located downstream to it, i.e. Pakistan and Bangladesh which governs the subcontinent’s two largest rivers— Indus and Ganga.
India’s treaties with two countries are the only pacts which have specific water sharing formulas at cross borders.
The 1996 Ganga treaty set up a new standard in guaranteeing delivery of specific water quantities in the critical dry season.
In contrast to this, China has multiple rivers flowing to more than dozen countries but it doesn’t have any water sharing treaty with co-riparian states
The Indus treaty
It is world’s most generous water sharing arrangement in terms of
Sharing ratio (80.52 per cent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system reserved for Pakistan)
Total volume of basin waters for the downstream state (Pakistan gets 90 times greater volume of water than Mexico’s share under a 1944 pact with the U.S.)
Apart from water sharing, there is partitioning of the river too. The Indus treaty is the first and only treaty to do so.
The Indus basin is divided into upper and lower parts. It has limited India’s full sovereignty right to the lower section. Whereas, Pakistan gets the upper rivers of J&K.
According to the agreement, India got three ‘eastern rivers’– the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej and Pakistan got the ‘western rivers’– Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
It is the only inter-country water agreement which has the doctrine of restricted sovereignty, where in the upper riparian state has to not interfere in the downstream state.
The treaty curbs India’s control over the timing and quantum of Pakistan earmarked rivers’ transboundary flows.
Water is a crucial natural resource which is essential for economic development of J&K
The gifting of river waters has generated grievances among the people.
In 2011, the J&K government hired an international consultant to assess the state’s cumulative economic losses. The figures are in hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The J&K legislation is encountering persistent demand from the population for revision or abrogation of Indus treaty since a resolution for treaty review was passed in 2003
The central government has tried to handle the situation amidst backlash from underdevelopment and also Pakistan abetted insurrection through modestly sized run of the river hydropower projects to address the chronic electricity shortages
Run-of-the-river hydroelectricity (ROR) is a type of hydroelectric generation plant whereby little or no water storage is provided.
Pakistan’s obstructionist tactics
The run of the river hydropower projects are permitted under the Indus Treaty
Pakistan wants no Indian works on any of the three ‘western rivers’
It seeks international involvement by invoking the treaty’s dispute-settlement provisions.
This provision permits a neutral-expert assessment or the constitution of a seven-member arbitral tribunal.
This is Pakistan’s strategy to induce more discontent and violence in the Indian state by denying the limited permissible benefits under the treaty.
Kishenganga hydropower project
Pakistan revealed its strategy when in 2010, it persuaded the international arbitrary tribunal to order India to suspend its construction of 330-megawatt hydropower project on a small Indus tributary, River Kishenganga
Though India’s project got suspended, Pakistan with Chinese aid build its own three-times larger hydropower plant on Kishenganga (called Neelum in Pakistan) so as to stake a priority right on river water use.
In 2013, the tribunal ruling gave India a setback when it allowed India to resume work on the project but with condition to ensure a minimum flow of 9 cumecs of water for Pakistan.
Prescribing such a minimum flow went beyond the treaty’s terms and the laws of nature.
Hence, Pakistan’s move to initiate a new arbitrary proceedings over Kishenganga and Ratle projects reminds how India’s unparrallel water generosity has led into unending troubles
Lessons yet not learnt
In 1960, India aimed at trading water for peace by signing the treaty.
Yet, within five years, Pakistan wages a war against India to grab Indian part of J&K in 1965.
China’s involvement in POK through construction of dams has created more strains in India and Pakistan relationship.
India has been pursuing small sized projects while Pakistan with China’s help is building mega dams like 7,000-megawatt Bunji Dam and the 4,500-megawatt Bhasha Dam.
The biggest dam that India has built post-independence is the 2,000-megawatt Tehri project in Uttarakhand.
Pakistan needs to act rationally
China recently thrashed an international tribunal ruling by declaring that it was its internal matter and such a tribunal had no right to pronounce an order which had no legal or historical basis to claim most of the South China Sea.
This is not an isolated case though. Major Powers rarely accept the international tribunal awards.
If Pakistan wants that India should upheld the Indus water treaty, it has to now stop to wage a constant propaganda battle against India on water issue.
Pakistan’s repeatedly invoking dispute resolution provision of the treaty and bringing international intercession is sending a wrong message to India.
India will be compelled to understand such actions of Pakistan in a sense that compliance with treaty obligations and arbitration decisions is counterproductive.
As there is no enforcement mechanism in the international law, nothing can stop India from emulating the example of the major powers.
India has the full right and authority to invoke Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties if Pakistan continues with its state-sponsored terrorism.
Even the International Court of Justice has held that a treaty may be dissolved by reason of a fundamental change of circumstances.
India is at the losing end of this treaty. Yet it is honouring the treaty in its capability. If Pakistan also wishes the treaty survives, it has to strike a balance between using the river waters and not causing ‘palpable harm’ to co-riparian state by exporting terror.
Connecting the dots:
India needs to deal with Pakistan not merely through words but actions also. Whether it is water treaty dispute, state sponsored terrorism or border issues. Critically analyse
If you were an expert on India-Pakistan relation, what would have been your views on it and possible future course of action?
General Studies 2
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections.
Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
General Studies 3
Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Rural to Urban Migration in India
Findings from the survey of migrant workers in Ghatkopar, a Mumbai suburb, shows that – Within 4-6 months of migrating, each of the surveyed families had managed to earn enough to lift them out of poverty and even repay their loans.
Does migration hold the same promise for the average Indian rural worker?
Study conducted in rural Bihar points to increasing outmigration for work, and its importance in livelihood strategies of households in rural Bihar.
Bihar has the highest migration rates in the country, as was shown by a National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report based on 2007-08 data.
In this study it was found that – “Deprived social groups are using migration to improve their socio-economic status in the rural economy”.
The study concluded that despite different castes and socio-economic backgrounds, migration might be helping those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder—the most being in Bihar.
Poor land ownership and exploitation
Access to land is an important determinant of incomes in rural India, and deprived social groups such as Dalits are often at a disadvantage due to poor land ownership.
Traditionally, workers from this social group have been forced to work as wage labourers and making themselves vulnerable to being exploited from the local landlord.
This group seems to be resorting to migration to escape the exploitation ridden village economy.
Does migration help in economic terms?
The answer is a big yes.
Deciding to work outside the village is something that is happening in other parts of the country too.
Young dalit men prefer working outside the village even when they choose to live in the village. “The supply of rural labour to the expanding non-farm urban service sector and the flow of urban aspirations to the rural world have rapidly increased over the years”.
Households with migrant members earned approximately over73000 in 2011, as compared to an income of Rs.62,235 in case of households without migrant members.
Between migration and welfare schemes such as the MGNREGA, an overwhelming majority opts for the former.
Income from casual labour in government programmes including MGNREGA and Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) formed less than 1% of total income across all caste groups in 2011, except for the SC/ STs where it constituted a slightly higher but still paltry 1.9% of income.
Deprived social groups are using migration to improve their socio-economic status in the rural economy.
Remittance had the highest share in incomes of Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe (SC/ST) and Muslim households.
This is because there is at least one migrant in these households.
In class terms, agricultural labourer households reported the highest increase in share of households with at least one migrant.
Remittances play an essential role in ensuring food for many rural poor households and thus constitute an efficient strategy for facing adversities such as low agricultural productivity and the inherent risks and instability of farming activities. Moreover, remittances may serve as insurance to improve or counter crisis situations, thus limiting negative effects on food security.
Evidence shows that the impact of remittances on agriculture is mixed and highly contextual. In some cases, migration and remittances foster household farm investment and agricultural production, while in others, the opposite occurs.
No quality living conditions:
More people are now migrating for urban informal jobs.
Migrant households have to suffer a significant deterioration in quality of their lives when they migrate.
Often one associates the cost of migration to be associated with lack of proper dwelling for the worker and his/her family. This need not be true for all migrant workers.
In fact, a comparison of average housing amenities in rural India and urban slums shows that the latter might be better off than the former.
Houses in slum areas are often poorly located and congested which leads to several diseases.
Migrants often do not have access to proper health facilities which leads them to lose their jobs or end up with life-threatening illnesses.
Any downturn in labour demand could immensely increase hardships.
Therefore, in terms of cash-in-hand, migrants certainly have better situations, but they are faced with new challenges in terms of shelter, water, etc.
The story of migration has its own tales of sorrow as several children turn into rag pickers and families have to live in inhuman conditions in urban areas. Many don’t get employment throughout the year and commute between urban and rural areas.
However, for the landless and marginal farmers who are in constant debt, migration is the only choice for livelihood. Migration comes as a boon for several people who get getter fresh opportunities and send remittances home.
Some analysts advocate internal mobility as a necessity for lifting people out of poverty. Remittances play an essential role in ensuring food for many rural poor households and thus constitute an efficient strategy for facing adversities such as low agricultural productivity and the inherent risks and instability of farming activities. Moreover, remittances may serve as insurance to improve or counter crisis situations, thus limiting negative effects on food security.
While migration is definitely helping people seek new opportunities, it cannot be a substitute for a generating quality employment in more stable sectors.
Connecting the dots:
Critically analyze whether migration is recommended for growth or not. List some of the push and pull factors that are responsible for triggering rural to urban migration.
Can public works offering relatively predictable employment opportunities be effective in slowing rural-urban migration. Critically examine.