Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Contact: Supriya Kumar, skumar@worldwatch.org, (+1) 202-745-8092, ext. 510
        The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity
As World Water Day approaches, new Worldwatch Institute study examines global water use and steps to address water scarcity  
Washington, D.C.---Some 1.2 billion people-almost a fifth of the world-live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress.

Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity.

World population is predicted to grow from 7 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050, putting a strain on water resources to meet increased food, energy, and industrial demands. But there are many other pressures, including increased urbanization and overconsumption, lack of proper management, and the looming threat of climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Water, global water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century.

At the global level, 70 percent of water withdrawals are for the agricultural sector, 11 percent are to meet municipal demands, and 19 percent are for industrial needs. These numbers, however, are distorted by the few countries that have very high water withdrawals, such as China, India, and the United States.

Agricultural water withdrawal accounts for 44 percent of total water withdrawal among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but this rises to more than 60 percent within the eight OECD countries that rely heavily on irrigated agriculture. In the four transitional economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, agriculture accounts for 74 percent of water withdrawals, but this ranges from 20 percent in Russia to 87 percent in India.

Policymakers must introduce a variety of measures to address global water scarcity. One important initiative is to support small-scale farmers. Much of the public investment in agricultural water management has focused on large-scale irrigation systems. Farmers can also use water more efficiently by taking a number of steps, including growing a diverse array of crops suited to local conditions and adopting irrigation systems like "drip" lines that deliver water directly to plants' roots.

Climate change will affect global water resources at varying levels. Reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharge are expected in the Mediterranean basin and in the semiarid areas of the Americas, Australia, and southern Africa, affecting water availability in regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, the large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and high mountain glaciers for water will be affected by changes in runoff patterns, while highly populated deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced inflows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels. And rising temperatures will translate into increased crop water demand everywhere.

To combat the effects of climate change, efforts must be made to follow an integrated water resource management approach on a global scale. This involves water management that recognizes the holistic nature of the water cycle and the importance of managing trade-offs within it, that emphasizes the importance of effective institutions, and that is inherently adaptive.

Further highlights from the report:
  • A region is said to face water scarcity when supplies fall below 1,000 cubic meters per person, and absolute water scarcity is when supplies drop below 500 cubic meters a year.
  • About 66 percent of Africa is arid or semiarid, and more than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa currently live on less than 1,000 cubic meters of water resources per person.
  • According to UN Water, each person in North America and Europe (excluding former Soviet Union countries) consumes at least 3 cubic meters per day of virtual water in imported food, compared with 1.4 cubic meters per day in Asia and 1.1 cubic meters per day in Africa. 
The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a

 at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday-Friday, 21-22  March 2013
      in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building

‘Cultural institutions and knowledge arenas, post-1947: Revisiting the roles of Maulana Azad’

in association with
Dr. Veena Naregal
Institute of Economic Growth

Concept Note:

The public life and work of Maulana Azad (1888-1958) provides an extraordinarily rich lens to view the shaping of our political culture and institutional arenas during the critical decades between 1920 and 1960.

Azad’s erudition and range of interests made him a truly exceptional figure. He acquired his formidable intellectual training outside the colonial education system, yet rose to being independent India’s first Minister of Education for a decade at the end of his career.

Azad launched the weekly Al-Hilal in 1912 and, soon after it was banned in 1914, Al-Balagh. He distanced himself from Sir Syed’s political and religious ideas. Azad deployed his talents as journalist, writer, editor, orator and jurist to mobilize anticolonial public opinion among Indian Muslims in ways that resonated with their proud literary, intellectual and religious heritage. He emerged as a young but highly respected intellectual but, alert to the limits of this strategy, moved closer to Gandhi and the Congress. Azad’s superb testimony following his arrest in 1922 for participating in the Khilafat movement, published as Qual-i-Faisal [Final Verdict], remains a classic document.

In 1923, Azad was chosen to preside over the Congress. Thereafter, he remained a key member of almost every Congress committee appointed—whether to address internal party questions or matters of public-political significance—until 1947.

During this time, he worked unstintingly to strengthen the party and, simultaneously, retain Muslim support for the Congress. Thus, Azad canvassed for the acceptance of the Motilal Nehru report—although it reversed previous provisions made by the 1916 Lucknow Pact for separate electorates and reservation of central legislature seats to safeguard Muslim interests.

When the Muslim League refused to sign the Nehru report, Azad, it is said, was cryptic: if the Muslim League was foolish to demand separate electorates, the Congress was even more foolish not to concede. He emerged as a key ally of both Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi and, equally, as a trenchant internal critic of majoritarian tendencies that the party structure and regional units had begun to betray, particularly after the formation of Congress ministries in 1937.

By the early 1940s, there were powerful conservative economic and political arguments that the only viable option for a successful post-Independent state was a federal structure premised upon a centre empowered to check provincial powers. Alongside, there were moves to embrace planning and state-led capitalist growth as national goals.

Azad was elected President of the Congress for a second time at its Ramgarh session in 1940. The view that Partition was inevitable was implicitly gaining ground —even among sections of the Congress. Against this, Azad’s views present a significant counterpoint. He believed that the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan was the only available feasible means to preserve the nation undivided, and so negotiated tirelessly.

In October 1947, during Partition riots in Delhi and elsewhere, Azad addressed his Muslim brethren in undivided India for the last time from the steps of the Jama Masjid. The speech and its sentiment have disappeared from the popular and institutional consciousness, but its tragic anguish cannot be separated from his views as statesman, intellectual and Congress leader.

We need to recognise the loss involved in reducing Maulana Azad to a symbolic icon or of viewing him as just an important Muslim leader. Otherwise, it is difficult to assess his initiatives after 1947 to establish national cultural institutions or his attempts as Minister of Education to persuade the Cabinet to shift education from the state list to the concurrent list so that education patterns could be standardized across the country.

In acknowledging Azad’s importance and legacies as an exceptional writer, intellectual and statesman alone can we hope to recognise the impulses that influenced institutional agendas in higher education and culture after 1947.

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