Have you heard about conflicts over water? Have you ever wondered how hard it is to ensure water access in a conflicted area? Well, what I can tell is that you have certainly heard how people are dying from thirst and hunger or how they getting sick because of lack of water. What you might not know is that sometimes it is hard to ensure adequate access to water. What are the reasons? In fact, there are many, but this article will focus on one of the reasons: a conflict. We will take a specific example of India and Pakistan, explain the reasons for the water dispute and evaluate the current situation with water resources.
To begin with, do you know that it has been only seven years since the recognition of the right to water and sanitation? Before that there was a long debate whether this right exists at all. Neither the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights nor the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) address water. Not earlier than 2010, the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have finally adopted resolution which recognized access to clean water, sanitation as human right (GA/10967).
To ensure this right is not an easy job. First of all, water situation in some regions is aggravated by its geographic position. Increasing population, the impact of economic development, climate change only makes it harder. These factors results in scarcity of fresh water. Moreover, water has another quality that makes it even more significant – its irreplaceability. Secondly, some regions are additionally involved into conflicts which make access to water more difficult. What makes it even more complicated is the fact that many river basins and aquifer systems are being shared by different states.
When something is shared, it sometimes gives precedent to a dispute. In case of two countries, it definitely does. This is the case between India and Pakistan which share the Indus basin. Currently both countries are experiencing lack of water, whereas water demand is rising and water resources of the Indus River continue to deplete. Some say that the situation in Pakistan is even worse, where the flow of river is dropping at seven percent yearly (See Baqai 2005, at 77). Thus, the river basin is giving rise for a dispute. Given the history of long-rivalry, it may result into a war.
The water dispute between Indian and Pakistan dates back to the early 20th century, but at that time it was a provincial conflict over the river to be resolved by British India. In 1947 India and Pakistan were partitioned, and the natural borders of river Beas, Chenab, Jhelum and Sutlej have been neglected. Many dams stayed in India, while their waters irrigated a major part of Pakistan. The geography of partition left the source rivers in India, and Pakistan felt threatened by its control. Moreover, the situation with Kashmir presented additional difficulties. Apart from its strategic value, the Eastern waters of Kashmir are significant for Pakistan in terms of resource access (its irrigation system largely depends on it).
Soon after the partition, a major crisis occurred when the Government of the Eastern Punjab (India) took its sovereign rights over the territorial waters and blocked Sutlej river, stopping water flow to Pakistan and causing agriculture of Pakistan severe damage. This precedent stayed in the collective memory of Pakistan, leaving fear that India could repeat its actions. India yet claimed that it was caused by Pakistani actions in Kashmir. Even today Pakistan feels insecure by its neighbour’s power over the Indus river.
By 1951 the conflict became more dangerous as both states refused to discuss the matter. That’s why, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (today’s World Bank) was approached to mediate the conflict. It was not until 1960 when the parties finally reached an agreement and signed the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
To ensure the best solutions the Permanent Indus Commission represented by both sides was established. Until 2015 the meetings were held regularly once a year to resolve problems, but after that none of them happened because of the tensions in the relations of India and Pakistan.
Only in March 2017 the meeting took place with Pakistan welcoming the Indian delegation. The World Bank was asked again to intervene but it refused, leaving two countries for a face-to-face dialogue. Even though the meeting did take place, it was decided to suspend further talks.
The current water dispute between two states is shaped by the following factors. First of all, it is fast growing population rate which puts enormous pressure on resources. Secondly, there is inefficient and inadequate use of water resources as well as increased demand for water as a result of economic growth. Thirdly, water stress is becoming more severe and it is further aggravated by climate change. Apart from this, one can see a reason for a dispute in inability and reluctance of political leaders of India and Pakistan to resolve the issue. As it is heated by the public opinion from both sides, the issues continues to be on the agenda. Additionally, there are grievances caused by the IWT which influence the dynamics of the dispute.
However successful the Indus Water Treaty may be, it remains to keep low profile and failed to reach its full potential. Both parties did agree on a partition of the Rivers, yet they did not pay specific attention to the other challenging parts of the agreement such as optimization of the use of the Indus waters (Chari 2014, at 5). Further, there is little information in regards to the groundwater use. It also does not address such issues as the division of shortages during dry years and technical specifications of hydropower projects of India, particularly impact of storages on the flows of the Chenab River to Pakistan .
Such weaknesses of the Treaty are consequently becoming a source of tension. It gives space for different interpretation, and this is used by both countries to their advantage. The IWT lacks its dynamics towards water resource sharing and has to be adjusted accordingly. Though the Indus Water Treaty did prevent a possible escalation over the water resources, it did not foresee the future depletion of the Indus River caused by population growth, new developments in industry, and more importantly by climate change and global warming. Back into 1960 it was not well-studied or discussed as often as now, hence, it was not given required attention. That is why many call to rethink the agreement and include new pressing issues into the Treaty.
Moreover, there has been an intensive debate in India to revoke the Treaty. It was the Uri attack that laid ground for it. An Indian analyst of water disputes and geostrategic developments, Chellaney suggested India should draw a clear line between the right of Pakistan to water inflows and its responsibility not to harm its upper riparian neighbour . In response, Pakistan warned that any attempts to review and/or exit the treaty would be deemed “an act of war” . Regardless, the Government of India remained mostly silent. The parties are not willing to cooperate; therefore the ITW is weakened by it.
In September 2016, the Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi, referring the ITW, said that “blood and water cannot flow together” . It was also stated that only in “atmosphere free of terror” the meeting of Indus Water Commission was possible (Ibid.). India has repeatedly mentioned altering and/or exiting the ITW, although there is no exit close in the Treaty.
It should be noted that in case of a conflict the UN Watercourses Convention of 1997 gives special attention to the “requirements of vital human needs” (Article 10, part 2). International Law Commission clarifies these needs and say that there should be “sufficient water to sustain human life, including both drinking water and water required for the production of food in order to prevent starvation” . This refers to the right to water of individuals, and the fact that States should respect and protect these rights.
Political tensions between India and Pakistan have worsened and made it difficult to settle even water issues. In this sense, the Kashmir conflict is inseparable from a water conflict. Many cooperative decisions were impossible because of parties’ inability to make any progress on the Kashmir question.
There is also a high level of securitization of water issues. To securitize means to construct a certain threat (for example, by means of authority). These threats are being dramatized and usually presented as a high-priority for a nation. Political leaders of Pakistan securitize this issue to the extent that it is described as a threat to national security. That makes a dispute more dangerous because water issues are being constructed as threat to a country.
Pakistan has more than once declared that if Pakistan’s need for water is used by India to pressure them, the country will consider it as a direct threat against Pakistani people. Environmental security is intertwined with the risks of violent conflict, mostly because stress in resources (e.g. water scarcity). It is also usually associated with the growing population rate and inequitable distribution of resources.
Sometimes the Kashmir dispute is also explained through headstreams of the Indus. Indian control over it likely pressures Pakistan especially during dry periods of the year. Indian Power projects in Kashmir (like Baglihar Dam) only make Pakistan to securitize water issue even more and treat it as security problem.
All in all, both countries are experiencing an enduring rivalry in regards to many aspects. This rivalry deteriorates the cooperation on water share issues. A high level of mistrust guards many countries’ decisions, that is why cooperative mechanisms usually fail. Moreover, the water issues are being regarded as a matter of national security that may escalate the situation. As water quality and quantity continues to be influenced by climate change, population rate continues to increase, demand for water continues to rise, and both countries continue to blame and accuse each other… it does not look like countries are ready to have a face-to-face dialogue over water resources any time soon. But let’s wait and see.
- P. Chadha, “Indus Water Treaty may not survive, warns UN report” India Water Review, 1 March 2017. Available from [http://www.indiawaterreview.in/Story/Specials/indus-water-treaty-may-not-survive-warns-un-report/2013/3#.WUUusut97IU].
- A. Parvaiz, “Indus Waters Treaty rides out latest crisis” Understanding Asia’s Water Crisis, 15 September 2016. Available from [https://www.thethirdpole.net/2016/09/25/indus-waters-treaty-rides-out-latest-crisis/].
- Dr. Jorgic, T. Wilkes, “Pakistan warns of ‘water war’ with India if decades-old treaty violated” Reuters, 27 September 2016. Available from [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-india-water-idUSKCN11X1P1].
- Express Web Desk, “Blood and water cannot flow together: PM Modi at Indus Water Treaty meeting”, The Indian Express, 27 September 2016. Available from [http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/indus-water-treaty-blood-and-water-cant-flow-together-pm-modi-pakistan-uri-attack/].
- International Law Commission, “Draft Articles on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses and commentaries thereto and resolution on transboundary confined groundwater” (1994) Part II Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 89. Available from [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/8_3_1994.pdf].
A Lovers’ Quarrel: What Now for India and China?
When China’s Consul General to India Zheng Xiyuan addressed a gathering in the city of Mumbai earlier in the week he made an interesting comparison on the relationship between the two Asian giants. “Relation between China and India is just like the monsoon season,” he said. “There are different levels of rainfall in different years. And sometimes you have clouds as well.” It is not surprising how apt the statement is especially with regard to the past three years which have seen the tiger and the dragon compete for geopolitical influence in Asia and beyond and tussle over longstanding territorial issues. The latter of the two culminated in the 70-day long military standoff in Doklam/Donglang, which has since then deescalated. However, the monsoon sometimes surprises with a few delayed showers, and so has Beijing with a sudden change in its rhetoric towards New Delhi, from one of visible aggression to one which is seemingly cooperative.
Clashes between the two kept analysts across the globe busy, with the possibility of a full-scale military conflict a favourite topic of discussion for the political enthusiasts among the uninitiated. The Doklam episode was the final among a series of recurring conflicts. The most prominent among them included India snubbing China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) summit in May flagging sovereignty issues due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC); a key portion of the OBOR which runs through a region of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan and claimed by India, and China’s repeated blocking of India’s move to get the chief of Pakistan based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed listed as a global terrorist with the UN. The relations had already taken a downturn with India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group being blocked by China on a consistent basis. Added to that, tensions reached a high with India’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama, seen as a separatist by China to visit the Tawang region which is claimed by China as Southern Tibet and by India as a part of its state Arunachal Pradesh. This happened despite repeated warnings from the Chinese that the visit would cause serious damage to diplomatic ties between the two countries. Did it?
The action-packed episodes are in the past now and recent developments on the world stage are worth a second look. With no new conflicts brewing for the time being and a precarious lid on the existing ones, it has been nothing short of intriguing to see the evident tone of cooperation between the two frenemies since the Doklam issue has been resolved. China seems to have made good, even if ever so slightly, on blocking the move to designate the JeM chief as a globally designated terrorist by condemning the Pakistan based terror group along with the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba at the recent BRICS summit held in Xiamen. While the move has likely and arguably been made to protect its own investments in the country and doesn’t have any visible bearing on India’s repeated efforts as yet, the step is significant in projecting Beijing’s new viewpoint on the fight against terror based outfits on a global level which previously was limited to vague statements sighting requirement of solid evidence and further communication and coordination between the involved countries. Beijing has also snubbed Pakistan in its effort to internationalise the issue of Kashmir, maintaining its position that the matter is for them and India to resolve on their own. While there has been no change of position on the issue from before and there is no strain of ties between the two ‘all-weather allies’, the tone of the statement is a change to be welcomed by New Delhi in its prominent stand against terrorism on both the national and international level.
Speaking of change, India along with Japan remained relatively quiet in the South China Sea conflict, making no explicit mention of it in their joint statement when the Prime Ministers of both the countries met earlier this September. Improvements in ties aside, another likely reason could be that the issue has taken a backseat with the focus of China, Japan as well as that of the United States on the heightening tension in the Korean Peninsula.
However, with Trump’s undiverted attention on Kim, the South East Asian countries involved in the conflict may find it difficult to stand up to the Chinese on their own, should Beijing choose to push even further with its activities in the contested waters. Therein lies an important lesson for India. “The Chinese have demonstrated a pattern of creeping encroachment”, India’s former Ambassador to Beijing Ashok K. Kantha has said, and India would do well to remember that. Indians may see the disengagement from both the sides in Doklam as a diplomatic victory over the Chinese but the conflict is not yet resolved. China’s perceived soft behaviour may merely be an understanding on their part that perhaps the time to act is not now, more so that cooperation is the way ahead; something which has continuously and explicitly been implied by both the sides over and over considering what else is at stake.
As two large and quickly growing economies, India and China’s relationship with each other has been heavy enough invested in by both the countries for them to know different. This is not just evident from the business end, but also from the mixing of the two cultures as well. Bollywood movies are enjoying huge popularity among the Chinese audience. At the same time across the border, Mandarin as a language has acquired more importance over the years, with schools offering the same as an optional language growing in number. Opinions of the people on each other may change every now and then from favourable to not as much in polls, yet there is no denying their mingling.
In this lovers’ quarrel, as is with any other, while the occasional bickering is unlikely to give way (at least in the foreseeable future), reconciliation is perhaps always the key and a quick one for that matter. This is known by both, even if they may forget from time to time.
Get Acquainted with Mumbai Through its Diverse Food
Popularly called India’s financial capital, Mumbai is known for more than just Bollywood and its stock markets. It is one of the more famous cosmopolitan cities in the country with a brilliant mix of people from all over. This eclectic combination of a variety of people from different places across the country has ended up creating a paradise for the food lovers in Mumbai.
A variety of edibles in the Maximus City
Named after Mumba, a Goddess and patron deity of the Kolis, Mumbai is a mixture of people from different religions as well. The ethnic group of Kolis are made up of Christians and Hindus and have provided the world with the finger-licking ‘Prawns Koliwada’ famous in Mumbai. Taste this deep fried Prawn dish for a mind-blowing experience. The people of the Konkan region have brought Malwani food to this city in all its spicy glory. Wash down this delicious food with Sol Kadi, which is a refreshing after-food beverage drunk after a heavy meal of Pomfret masala or crab masala.
Mohammed Ali Road
Mumbai is famous across the country for its outstanding street food that makes exploring this city an interesting feat. Experience every flavour of the city soon as you land and board the Mumbai airport cab, and drive towards the active Mohammad Ali Road. Experience the buzz of activity in this area, which plays home to several important mosques and is also the heart of all Ramadan celebrations in the city. Try out the Mumbai classics such as pav bhaji and bhel puri, unique to this area’s busting khao gallis (food streets).
A food lover’s visit to this city is incomplete without making a stop at Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach. Considered to be the best place for vegetarian food items and street foods such as pani puri and pav bhaji. Sit on the sandy shores of this beach and watch the picturesque sunset while munching on some sev puri, which is Mumbai’s classic street food. The combination of herbs, sev and chutneys over the potato makes for a scrumptious snack. Sample some kulfi sticks while at the beach. Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert that is more creamy and dense than ice cream is. Pick your favourite flavours from mango, rose, cardamom, pistachio, and saffron.
For those of you who have a sweet tooth, try the hand-churned samples of ice cream in strange yet delicious flavours in Mumbai. Close to the markets of this city exists a 120-year old shop that also serves bright orange jalebis and sugary sweet goodies popular in India. If you’re flying into the city, you can pick out self-drive Mumbai airport taxi service such as Zoomcar and explore the food joints of this exquisite city.
It’s Been 70 Years Since India Became An Independent Nation: What’s Changed?
It has been 70 years since India became independent and a lot has changed. On the 15th August 1947, India finally won its independence, after a long struggle for freedom. The road to freedom wasn’t easy; it was a long struggle and one that cost them thousands of people. The country was partitioned, and Pakistan was created, and along with it, a new India was born. India may have lost some of its people, but it gained a brand new identity.
Since then, India has adopted a democratic path and has developed in many unexpected ways. Wondering what’s changed in the past 70 years – then read on for a guide to the ways in which India has advanced over the past seven decades.
Equality comes before law
In 2017, India treats everyone equally when it comes to law. All Indians are equal and subject to the same authority when it comes to law and jurisdiction. There is no special treatment based on eligibility, income or gender – everyone is treated fairly. Birth is no longer seen as a basis for choosing who should and shouldn’t be powerful. Social privileges are not based on gender, religion, caste, or ethnicity – everyone is equal. Each citizen carries an Aadhar card or can use an Aadhar card download instead. This states their name, contact details, and holds a range of information about them. Despite these laws around equality, discrimination does still exist, but the government and local authorities are working hard to stamp this out.
Education has significantly progressed
Today, more than 100 million children go to school in India and complete their primary education, which includes learning to read and write. The number of children going on to secondary education and higher education is also impressive. There are now over 300 universities in India that children can choose to attend. At secondary school and in higher education, children are encouraged to learn skills that will aid them in later life and make the process of getting a well-paid job easier. There is a lot of emphasis on educational equality, with girls being encouraged to attend school just like boys are.
In terms of industry, India has also made some incredible advancements since 1947. In the 50s and 60s, heavy industries became big business in India and received a lot of government attention. Today, smaller scale industries are receiving the same attention, helping to make startups more successful. There have been a lot of community development programs bringing schools, medical facilities, and clean water to communities across the country.
Since it gained its independence in 1947, India has come a long way. There have been a lot of changes that have taken place within the country, from how it is run and governed, to how important education is for children. India is slowly but surely changing for the better, with more and more emphasis put on helping to grow and develop poorer communities, improving the way of life of the masses, rather than just the few.
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