Sunday, October 07, 2012

An Explanation

I posted this picture on Facebook and commented that people who collect blood - like blood banks - might have missed an opportunity here. (The last line in the banner says "we are ready to give blood but we will not give a drop of water")

Three of my good friends took objection to this. One of them (F1) said I was being insensitive. Another (F2) said that he felt bad. I am particularly fond of this friend F2 and hence his opinion matters to me. If I make him feel bad, even unintentionally, I feel very bad. It so happens that the third friend is also someone who I am very fond of agreed with F1 and F2 and said that he is sensitive to social and farmer related issues.

Starting from the last one, my response is - so am I! But the question is, are farmers in Tamil Nadu not farmers? Having said that, I do not know if the demands made by the TN government are just or not. Since the dam was built by Karnataka (The erstwhile princely state of Mysore), it is in Karnataka, Karnataka "loses" large tracts of land to store the water and the major part of, if not all of, all the people displaced by the waters are in Karnataka, the catchment area for the dam is in Karnataka and Karnataka bears the maintenance charges for the dam, does Karnataka have a greater claim on the waters?

(The plight of the displaced people is something ignored by all. Some of those 'new' settlements have drinking water shortage. Since their numbers are smaller their cries are unheard. All of us are guilty.)

If I remember and understand right, some agreement was reached on the water sharing issue and Karnataka was supposed to release x units of water but TN is asking for 6x. Upping the ante like this is not fair if my understanding is right.

The other reason that makes me not take the banner seriously is this. Is it really the directly affected people who feel so or is it the politicians of both TN and KA whipping up passions for their gain and let the people (farmers and others) be damned. Do we really know either way?

And one final point is that is it not better that we share waters justly, the only measure of it is optimising or maximising food grain production for the nation? Yes, it is right to be sensitive to famers' issues - even if it is purely out of self interest! But that is not my interest. Assume that KA hoards water, a not inconsiderable part of it will evaporate over time, and we as a nation produce less grain than we could, who are the worst affected? The poorest of the poor - farmers and other workers - industrial or otherwise and every one of us

The slogan quoted above is emotional. I do not reject emotions but distrust them. When rational solutions are the need, emotions are at best distrusted!

Dear F1, F2, F3, I rest my case.

* Note, when I talk about Karnataka above, I do not say "we" - only when I talk of India.


  1. Agree with you if it is any consolation.

  2. Anonymous12:16 pm

    Nice, balanced view. I am not sure if it is the same set of Fs, but one of the F's posed a question: "Do you think TN would had released water, if the dam was in TN?"; maybe not. But then some of these folks seem to have a made a habit of justifying their "wrong" by presuming that others would had also done the "wrong", in similar situations. The alternate path of looking at folks who are doing "right" is seldom pursued. In this case, one could look at the Indus Water Treaty that has survived the test of two major wars and several other periods of great unease.

    Unfortunately these behaviors become ingrained and come to fore in many similar situations. One of the F’s broadcasted “Do you know TN is having problems with all their neighbors?”; okay, what about Karnataka? Or when some folks became excited when H1N1 deaths were reported in Pune and supposedly some folks fled Maharashtra and migrated to Karnataka (?). It really did not take much time when the same crisis hit us in Bangalore……….

    Anyway, this is a never ending situation and rest assured, India will always be a third-world, third-grade country thanks to all the “local pride”.