Saturday, December 27, 2008

Climate change: Water- South Asia's lifeline

December 21, 2008 -World Bank
The impacts of climate change in the form of higher temperatures, more variable precipitation, and more extreme weather events threaten the water supply to millions of people living near South Asia’s numerous river basins.The recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan followed the Bali Roadmap, which set forth a negotiating timetable that seeks a successor to Kyoto protocol in Copenhagen 2009. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.N. Harshadeep, World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist for South Asia said, “If climate projections are indicative of future trends, the risks associated with water-related climate variability are likely to intensify and worsen. Therefore it is vital for South Asia to find solutions that will balance its already stressed water supply with increasing demand.”

Significance of water

The great civilizations of the world have evolved around water and South Asia is no exception. In South Asia, water encompasses the cultural, social, economic and political fabric in the lives of some 1.5 billion people. Water resources is key to agriculture, hydropower, and to sustain the aquatic environment. The region is endowed with great rivers that are the lifelines of the regional economy. Many of these rivers -Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, and Meghna- flow from the Himalayan-Hindu Kush “water towers.”The ice mass covering the Himalayan- Hindu Kush mountain range is the third largest in the world, after the polar icecaps. They are the source of the nine largest rivers of Asia. These glacial masses store precipitation in the form of snow and ice, regulating water distribution and providing continuous flows during the dry months.The Ganges river basin alone is home to some 500 million people. The massive concentration of people around river basins, compounded by high and persistent poverty rates illustrates the vulnerability of the region to current hydrological shocks and longer-term climate change. The river basins, however, offer significant potential for water resources development and to better manage current and evolving climate risks.Climate change in South Asia is predicted to amplify current levels of variability, and may fundamentally change most hydrological systems.Heavy reliance on the monsoonsThe region’s economy and predominantly rural livelihoods heavily depend on the timely arrival and performance of the monsoons. The monsoon is the most significant climate event: it carries over 70 percent of the region’s annual precipitation in only four months. Because of the dominance of the monsoons, the region’s climate exhibits the highest seasonal concentration and variability of rainfall in the world.

The region is already highly vulnerable to droughts and floods

The region remains highly vulnerable to droughts and floods that not only devastate lives and livelihoods, but also undermine progress on economic growth and poverty alleviation. Every year, some part of the region is usually in the grip of a devastating drought or in the fury of a flood. “Climate change is predicted to amplify current levels of variability, and may fundamentally change most hydrological systems,” said Harshadeep.It is difficult to predict their intensity and duration. Climate change might exacerbate the damage caused by such events. Harshadeep said, “Monsoonal rainfall over India has decreased by approximately 5 to 8 percent since the 1950s, and combined with impending climate change, this might contribute to more intense, longer, or more widespread droughts across the region.”The region’s river systems are also highly flood prone. Floods are a natural and necessary feature of river systems with variable seasonal flows; however, when floods are excessive, they cause extensive damage. Flood-affected areas in South Asia might increase as a result of climate change. “60 percent of Bangladesh is flood prone and the country has already recorded earlier arrival of flash floods,” said Harshadeep.

Water scarcity is another challenge

The annual average water availability in South Asia appears to meet current consumption of the population. Harshadeep, however, contends, “Averages conceal extreme seasonal and distributional patterns. Water availability is under threat both from variability in supplies and growing demands.”To compound the problems of scarcity, newer stresses associated with rapid economic growth are adding additional strains on South Asia’s water resources. “Rapid industrialization increases water demands, pollution and unsustainable use of natural resources, including groundwater and surface water bodies,” said Harshadeep. “With its heavy reliance on the monsoons and snow-fed rivers, water availability in the region is highly sensitive to climate change.”


Increases in temperature combined with predicted changes in precipitation could affect water availability in the region. This would have implications for domestic and industrial water supplies, hydropower generation, and agricultural productivity. Climate change, especially when combined with sea-level rise and land subsidence, is also predicted to increase the likelihood of both coastal and inland flooding, especially in Bangladesh.There is general consensus that climate change is occurring and may be irreversible. “However, the magnitude and precise timing of these changes is unknown, as the current generation of global circulation models lack accuracy at finer spatial resolutions and there remain large uncertainties in projecting local changes in climate,” said Harshadeep. “The precise consequences of these changes are currently hard to predict, but they will be significant.”

Regional cooperation

Sadiq Ahmed, Acting Chief Economist for South Asia, World Bank said, “However, the potential impacts of climate change could be alleviated through enhanced cooperation and dialogue among and within jurisdictions.” The region will benefit from robust management and productive development of water resources.As many of the rivers in the region are shared trans-boundary systems, regional coordination and cooperation will inevitably be required for both an increased understanding of the nature of climate challenges and the formulation of approaches to address such changes effectively.“In the past, water has been a source of tension among countries that share trans-boundary rivers,” said Ahmed. However, the success of the Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan and India has demonstrated that cooperation that benefits people can withstand political obstacles.India and Bangladesh have 54 transnational rivers. “Managing a common problem will require a cooperative solution that would include data collection and exchange, analysis, and exploration of shared responses,” said Ahmed.

Strategy for the future

“Building more resilience to climate change – is critical to maintaining and expanding South Asia’s growth,” said Karin Kemper, World Bank’s Sector Manager for Social, Environment & Water for South Asia. In order to do so, the region needs to focus on knowledge base and investment.Knowledge base: Widening the knowledge base will involve promoting national and regional initiatives that foster research, develop knowledge and data sharing among institutions, and establish a cooperative framework to advance a regional agenda aimed at increasing the exchange of knowledge and best practices.Investment: Key to the overall climate change agenda is the availability of and access to financing to address the challenges associated with water resources and climate change. The critical areas that require immediate investment are water resource management, water infrastructure, water-efficient technologies, crop research, and education and enhancement of skills.

Manage water demand, not supply

Subir Roy

December 24, 2008, Source : Business Stadard

This book is all about water. It is authored by academics, some of whom can write in a way lay people can understand. Importantly, all the essays are profusely referenced, so someone wanting to read further knows where to look. It begins with a chapter by Ramaswamy R Iyer, an authority on water in India, “setting the scene”. He calls his effort a tour d’horizon but it can also be called a tour d’force. He outlines two contending approaches to water — techno-centric and socio-centric. The former relies on technical expertise and engineering solutions; the latter on cultures, lifestyles and social system and structures to inform development, management and conservation.
The two approaches come alive in discussing what Nepal can do with its water, whether to build large dams to export power to India or not. It is a choice between large technology-driven, foreign-funded export-oriented projects imposed by the government on people and decentralised relatively small environmentally benign projects primarily for Nepal’s own needs and local exports. In Pakistan, India and Nepal, environmental concerns are powerful but not mainstream. Officials, neo-liberal economists and World Bank and ADB officials involved in the reform process juxtapose ‘development’ with the ‘environment’ and do not want the latter to be over-emphasized.
Avijit Gupta emphasises that there can be more than one way of looking at a river and trying to manage all attributers of it is one of the contending options. Even when you manage, it can be adaptive management. Floods can be seen as instruments of river management. He holds that “it is perhaps unwise to impound rivers in the name of management without examining … current and future scenarios. Diverting water from one river to another without adequate investigation is…unwise and bordering on folly.”
While examining the regional politics of water-sharing Douglas Hill notes upfront that “South Asia has the lowest availability of water per capita for any major region in the world” and in his opinion “it is clear that water shall remain a source of political division in the foreseeable future.” Not just between countries but within them too. The “uneasy” nature of federalism within countries has “exacerbated tensions” between sub-national governments in India and Pakistan.
Binayak Ray, in a key chapter on global conventions and regulation on international rivers notes that 34 per cent of India’s fresh water comes from outside its boundaries and, after its annexation of Tibet, China sits on the sources of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. “As an upper riparian country China could use water as a strategic weapon against lower riparian countries.” He feels “China would be a major player in South Asia,” not commonly recognized in the region. He feels India should have a flexible approach. “Given the fact that subcontinental riparian countries are environmentally and physiographically interlinked, India can ill afford to ignore cooperation in developing a sustainable water policy.”
Rohan D’Souza, in his chapter on “River-linking and its discontents” contrasts how, over the last century, emphasis has shifted from seeking supply-side solutions to demand-side solutions to problems over water. This has happened as the downside of dam and canal irrigation has become apparent through the spread of resultant salination and water logging which have rendered areas irreversibly barren. Plus, siltation has reduced the lives of dams — Bhakra’s life is down from 88 years to 47 and Hirakud’s from 110 years to 35! His point is “damned rivers are dead rivers” and he wants us to shift emphasis to “river restoration and management”.
Can regions manage their water problems successfully? Jennifer Duyne Barenstein gives a fascinating account of this in northeast Bangladesh in the hoars which are saucer-shaped low-lying areas surrounded by river levees that let in water during the monsoons to grow fish and collect water in surface ponds and then as the dry season approaches and river levels go down, let out water to raise a winter rice crop which has to be brought home before early rain causes flooding again.
It is an example of group and private ownership and effort. When monsoon flooding of agricultural land takes place everybody can fish; and when harvesting takes place generous leftovers are there on the ground for the poor to collect. People contribute with effort and subscription, some of it even coming from Londonis (locals who have migrated to London). These people are not victims of their environment but have adapted themselves to it by organising community participation in water management.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Attack on Himal Media by Maoist affiliated trade union is undoubtly a matter of serious concern. It has exhibited the intention of Maoist towards press freedom which is regarded as the heart of multiparty democracy.

But the attack has left lesson to the media owner as well. They are to be guided by universally accepted fundamental ethics management and journalism. Media should be loyal to their workers and towards nation as well. But it is lacking in Nepal.

Personally I, being a journalist, condemn the attack. But at the same time, I urge every media owner to be loyal towards workers and respect their contribution. Both journalist and media should give sole priority to the nation and should work over national interest. Working as an agent of power nation and betraying own country is hellish behavior. Such trend should be deplored by each Nepalese. Let, the journalism bloosm in the fertile land of Nepal, let its fragrance spread all over the world. Let the ideal journalism followed in our country.
I show my disatishfaction towards the attack by wearing black cloth in Hand. I seek solidarity from my dear reader in this issue. Lets respect press freedom, lets respect himan right and democracy.

Sujit Mainali
Now in Kathmandu

Trust Me Or Not

Toying with terrorism

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Source :

Kamila Hyat

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor

There is a distinct note of helpless frustration in the statement by the NWFP government calling for action against militants in Swat to be made more effective and warning that, at present, little is being achieved beyond the death of innocent people.Hidden within the words is the suspicion that an all-out offensive against the militants is still not being waged; that the armed forces remain convinced that these people of violence, who have most recently exhumed and slung up in public the body of a local ‘pir’ in Swat who died in a gun-battle fought against them, are ‘allies’ who need to be retained. Similar apprehensions are voiced everywhere in Swat by local people who have for months borne the main brunt of the gunfire. Some report instances in which troops have calmly allowed militants to walk away, making no attempt to act against them; others speak of militants receiving prior warnings of action so that they can safely escape. The deeply unhappy NWFP government, led by the ANP which of course won the poll on the basis of its open opposition to militancy, has called on the federal government to intervene; it is uncertain whether the government in Islamabad is in a position to do so or what precisely its aims are. It has become impossible to know what President Zardari is thinking behind the broad smile he dons each time he appears in public. The lack of credibility of almost everyone in the government adds to the distrust seen everywhere.We all know of the nexus between Pakistan’s security forces and the militants set up in the 1980s. While US political leaders, such as Senator John Kerry who visited recently, are quick to point fingers and blame the ISI, the fact too is that groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were established as highly organized fighting machines inspired by the notion of ‘jihad’ only with the support of the CIA. In offices in Washington, documents describing how these forces were created, to serve US interests at the time, still lie within the covers of files that are now rarely referred to. As was perhaps inevitable, these organizations have used their training, their structures and their zeal to breakaway from their masters and forge out paths of their own. In doing so, they have retained the support of powerful elements within the country. This of course is why men who preach fanaticism, such as Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Muhammad or the more suave, but equally zealous leader of the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD), Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, have been left untouched by repeated crackdowns against militancy. The fact is that we have only toyed with terrorism and shied away from any real attempt to tackle it. That is why, even after the 2002 ban on groups such as the LeT, these forces, sometimes operating under the flimsy disguise of new names, have been able to operate through Punjab. Those who have attended JuD rallies speak pro-jihad messages slipped in between sugar-coated homilies calling for social uplift; of a fierce sentiment against India carried forward by citing terrible abuses in Kashmir. Of course these accounts of Indian atrocities are not inaccurate, and this makes them all the more powerful. Truth always has greater force than lies. This is something our government needs to discover. Another truth too is that for our security forces, groups such as the LeT are an asset. They will not allow them to be easily dismantled. And of course, given the depth of the roots they have established in society, it is not easy to dismantle them anyway. The schools, the soup kitchens, the clinics they run, with genuine philanthropic intent, have all helped establish these roots. The games of deception played in Pakistan for too long, the refusal to deal with terror while insisting before a watchful world that we are indeed doing so, has landed us today in a truly dangerous place. From across our eastern border, India continues to warn in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that Pakistan act against the elements behind it, or face action. New Delhi states wads of ‘irrefutable’ evidence have been handed over. Islamabad denies this, claiming it has been provided no proof at all. The truth probably lies somewhere in between these two positions. Pakistan, after all, has still to explain why a young man from the town of Faridkot has ended up in the hands of police in Mumbai who say he is the sole surviving bomber. No theory that would explain his presence has so far surfaced. A vague tale of Ajmal Kasab having been handed over ahead of the bombings by Nepal to India has been emphatically denied by that country. Similarly, India has yet to explore allegations regarding the death of anti-terrorism chief Hemant Karkare who had played a part in tracking down Hindu extremist outfits engaged in terror.But there is no getting away from the fact that terror now runs through the veins of our country. The account that surfaced last week, in this newspaper, of how Omar Sheikh, the man convicted in the case involving the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl, had plotted from his cell in Hyderabad Jail the assassination of former president Pervez Musharraf, demonstrates that terrorist networks remain intact; that for all the bluster from Musharraf about cracking down on militancy from 2001 to 2008, they have barely been dented. Indeed they have been able to grow. The full story behind the killing last month in Islamabad of retired General Faisal Alvi, who had reportedly been threatened by Sheikh and was known for his stand against militants, is too still untold. The links in the past between Sheikh and our intelligence networks are another reminder of how the net of terror has, over the decades, been woven; this net still entangles the country holding it in a state of virtual paralysis even as hostile elements strike.Even as the frightening threats from India become more vociferous, the lack of internal unity makes us more vulnerable than ever before. In the past, similar aggression from India has led to political forces joining ranks. This time, even as the language from across the border grows harsher, the PML-N has launched its own anti-government offensive, creating a visible divide. How things will pan out over the next few weeks, as we walk unsteadily into 2009, is still to be seen. A new poll shows that pessimism across the country is growing. Whether or not it recedes will depend on how far we succeed in tackling the multifarious problems we face and whether we can slay the hydra-headed terrorist monster that today threatens both internal and regional stability. Email:

Monday, December 22, 2008

नेपाली भूमि भारतविरुद्ध प्रयोग भइरहेको निराधार आरोप

By Sujit Mainali
काठमाडौं, मंसिर २८, २०६५/ अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय सञ्चारमाध्यमहरूले भारतको आर्थिक केन्द्र मुम्बईमा भएको आतंककारी हमलासँग नेपालको सम्बन्ध रहेको उल्लेख गरेका छन्। आतंककारी र नेपालबीचको सम्बन्धलाई लिएर सबैभन्दा बढी सचेत देखिएका भारतीय सञ्चारमाध्यमहरूले भारतको आन्तरिक सुरक्षामा नेपालले महत्वपूर्ण प्रभाव पार्ने भएकाले यसतर्फ सचेत हुन भारत सरकारको ध्यानाकर्षणसमेत गराएका छन्।
भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका 'हिन्दुस्तान टाइम्स' ले मुम्बई आक्रमणका प्रमुख योजनाकारमध्येका एक सबाहुद्दिन अहमदले नेपालमा बसेर आक्रमणको योजना बनाएको दाबी गरेको छ। सन् २००५ मा भारतको बेङ्लोरस्थित एक शिक्षण संस्थामा भएको आक्रमणका लागि समेत जिम्मेवार ठहराइएका सबाहुद्दिनले मुम्बई आक्रमणका अर्का आरोपी फदिम अहमद अन्सारीमार्फत् पाकिस्तानमा रहँदै आएका आतंककारी समूह 'लस्कर ए तोएबा' का कमाण्डर मोहम्मद मुजामीलसँग सम्पर्क गरेको सो अखबारले उल्लेख गरेको छ। 'गत जनवरीमा फदिमलाई काठमाडौं जान निर्देशन आएको थियो, काठमाडौं आएर उनले सबाहुद्दिनसँग सम्पर्क गरे,' हिन्दुस्तान टाइम्समा लेखिएको छ।

'अशोक' उपनामबाट नेपालमा रहँदै आएका सबाहुद्दिन र फदिनबीच भेटघाट भएको र फदिमले लस्करका कमाण्डर र उनीबीच महत्वपूर्ण सूचना आदानप्रदान गरेको हिन्दुस्तान टाइम्सको दाबी छ।

त्यस्तै 'एसिया न्युज' को अनलाइन संस्करणले पनि नेपालमा रहँदै आएका लस्कर ए तोएबाका 'विशेष प्रतिनिधि' सबाहुद्दिनले नेपालबाटै मुम्बई आक्रमणमा सहयोगी भूमिका निर्वाह गरेको उल्लेख गरेको छ। नेपाल र भारतबीचको खुला सीमाको लाभ उठाउँदै उनले नेपाललाई 'सुरक्षित स्थल' का रूपमा प्रयोग गरेको भारतीय प्रहरीका वरिष्ठ अधिकारी अमिताभ यशलाई उद्धृत गर्दै एसिया न्युजले लेखेको छ। …सबाहुद्दिनले आक्रमणपूर्व नेपालमा रहेका पाकिस्तानी जासुसी संस्थाका विभिन्न अधिकारीहरूसँग पनि भेटभाट गरेका थिए,' समाचारमा जनाइएको छ।

अर्को भारतीय अनलाइन 'आउट लुक इण्डिया' ले मुम्बई हमलाका प्रमुख योजनाकार …मेकानिक चाचा' उपनाम भएका लजपुरीयालाई सन् १९९३ मा मुम्बईमा भएको आक्रमणको करिब साढे छ वर्षपछि काठमाडौंमा पक्राउ गरिएको घटना उल्लेख गरेको छ। …नेपाल प्रहरीले सन् १९९९ मा लजपुरीयालाई पक्राउ गरी भारतीय गुप्तचर संस्था 'सीबीआई' लाई सुपुर्दगी गरेको थियो,' सन् १९९९ मा 'रिडिफ डटकम' मा प्रकाशित समाचारलाई उद्धृत गर्दै आउटलुकले लेखेको छ।

भारतबाटै प्रकाशित हुने अर्को अनलाइन पत्रिका 'सेन्टर क्रोनिकल' ले आतंककारीहरूलाई आवश्यक रकम छिमेकी मुलुकमा हुने नक्कली नोट कारोबारबाट प्राप्त हुँदै आएको दाबी गरेको छ। …नेपालमा पनि नक्कली रुपैयाँको कारोबार हुने गरेको छ, नेपाल र बंगलादेशमा उनीहरूका सहायक संगठनहरू सक्रिय छन्,' समाचारमा लेखिएको छ। त्यसैगरी टेलिग्राफ कलकत्ता र थाइल्याण्डबाट प्रकाशित हुने प्रवासी भारतीयहरूद्वारा सञ्चालित अनलाइन …थिण्डियन' ले नेपाल(भारतबीचको अव्यवस्थित सीमा व्यवस्थामा आधारित रहेर समाचार सम्प्रेषण गरेको छ। …नेपाल-भारतबीचको ७ सय १४ किलोमिटर लामो खुला सिमानालाई आतंककारीहरूले प्रयोग गरेको हुन सक्ने भारतीय सुरक्षा अधिकारीहरूको अनुमान छ', टेलिग्राफ कलकत्ताले लेखेको छ, …७ सय किलोमिटर लामो नेपाल-भारत सिमानामा हाल नौवटा भारतीय सीमा सुरक्षा बलको बटालियन परिचालन गरिएको स्रोतको दाबी छ।'
भारतमा सबैभन्दा धेरै प्रकाशित हुने भनिएको दैनिक पत्रिका 'टाइम्स अफ इण्डिया' ले मुम्बई हमलाको घाउ सुक्न नपाउँदै भारतीय प्रहरीले भारतको चण्डीगढबाट विस्फोटक सामग्रीसहित ६ जना नेपाली कामदारलाई पक्राउ गरेको जनाएको छ। हिमाञ्चल प्रदेशमा जारी सडक निर्माण कार्यमा संलग्न रहेका ती नेपाली मजदुरहरू त्यहींको जनसेवा विभागमा भएको विस्फोटमा संलग्न भएको हुन सक्ने बताइएको छ।

भारतीय सञ्चारमाध्यमका अलावा अमेरिकी तथा मध्यपूर्वका सञ्चारमाध्यमहरूले पनि यससम्बन्धी समाचार सम्प्रेषण गरेका छन्। अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय समाचार संस्था 'अलजजिरा' को अनलाइन संस्करणले मुम्बई आक्रमणका संदिग्ध आतंककारीहरूले नेपालमा चलखेल गरेको भन्ने भारतीय सुरक्षा अधिकारीहरूको भनाइलाई उद्धृत गर्दै समाचार प्रकाशित गरेको छ। त्यसैगरी अमेरिकाको दैनिक पत्रिका 'वासिङ्टन पोष्ट' ले दिल्लीस्थित द्वन्द्व व्यवस्थापन संस्थाका वरिष्ठ अधिकारी अजय सहनीलाई उद्धृत गर्दै लेखेको छ, 'कास्मिर तथा पाकिस्तानसँगको भारतको सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रमा सुरक्षा व्यवस्था अत्यन्त कडा भएकाले आक्रमणकारीहरू अन्य मार्ग रोज्य बाध्य भएका छन्।' नेपाल र बंगलादेशसँग भारतको सीमा व्यवस्था खुकुलो भएकाले उनीहरूले यी क्षेत्रहरूलाई आधार इलाका बनाएको हुनसक्ने समाचारमा बताइएको छ। विभिन्न समयमा आतंककारीहरूले भारतमा आक्रमण गर्न नेपालीहरूलाई प्रयोग गरेको भारतीय प्रहरीको दाबी रहेको सो समाचारमा उल्लेख छ।

तर, नेपाली विश्लेषकहरूले भने मुम्बई हमलासँग नेपालको सम्बन्धलाई भारतीय मिडिया तथा सञ्चारकर्मीहरूले गलतरूपमा व्याख्या गरेको जनाएका छन्। राष्ट्रिय स्वार्थपूर्तिका लागि मिडियालाई हतियारका रूपमा प्रयोग गर्दै आएको भारतले आतंककारी र नेपालबीचको सम्बन्धलाई बद्नियतपूर्वक बढाइचढाई गरी सम्प्रेषण गरेको उनीहरूको दाबी छ।
वरिष्ठ सीमाविद् फणिन्द्र नेपालले नेपालमा आतंककारीहरूको चलखेल बढेको भन्ने प्रायोजित यथार्थ देखाई सुपुर्दगी सन्धि गर्न नेपाललाई बाध्य गराउने भारतको रणनीतिस्वरूप भारतीय सञ्चारमाध्यमले यसप्रकारको समाचार सम्प्रेषण गरेको बताएका छन्। …नेपाली भूमि भारतविरुद्ध प्रयोग भइरहेको भन्ने उनीहरूको आरोप सुनियोजित हो,' उनले भने, …नेपाली भूमिबाट भारतको सुरक्षामा खलल पुग्ने काम भइरहेको छ भने दुई देशबीचको खुला सिमानालाई व्यवस्थित र नियन्त्रित गर्न भारतले नेपाललाई दबाब दिनुपर्छ।'

त्यस्तै वरिष्ठ पत्रकार एन.पी. उपाध्यायले नेपाली भूमि भारतविरुद्ध प्रयोग भइरहेको भन्ने भारतीय सञ्चारमाध्यमहरूको आरोपको खण्डन गरेका छन्। 'भारतलाई अस्थिर बनाउने तत्वहरू भारतभित्रै छन्', उनले भने, 'यसका लागि अन्य देशमाथि आरोप लगाउनुभन्दा आन्तरिक समस्या समाधानपट्टी ध्यान दिनु भारतका लागि उपयुक्त हुन्छ।'

The Geopolitics of India: A Shifting, Self-Contained World

December 16, 2008 1518 GMT
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of monographs by Stratfor founder George Friedman on the geopolitics of countries that are currently critical in world affairs. Click here for a printable PDF of the monograph in its entirety.

By George Friedman

The geopolitics of India must be considered in the geographical context of the Indian subcontinent — a self-contained region that includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and, depending how one defines it, Nepal and Bhutan. We call the subcontinent “self-contained” because it is a region that is isolated on all sides by difficult terrain or by ocean. In geopolitical terms it is, in effect, an island.
This “island” is surrounded on the southeast, south and southwest by the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. To the west, it is isolated by mountains that rise from the Arabian Sea and run through Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, stretching northward and rising higher and higher to the northwestern corner of Pakistan. There, at the Hindu Kush, the mountain chain swings east, connecting with the Pamir and Karakoram ranges. These finally become the Himalayas, which sweep southeast some 2,000 miles to the border of Myanmar, where the Rakhine Mountains emerge, and from there south to India’s border with Bangladesh and to the Bay of Bengal. The Rakhine are difficult terrain not because they are high but because, particularly in the south, they are covered with dense jungle.
The geopolitics of India must be considered in the geographical context of the Indian subcontinent — a self-contained region that includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and, depending how one defines it, Nepal and Bhutan. We call the subcontinent “self-contained” because it is a region that is isolated on all sides by difficult terrain or by ocean. In geopolitical terms it is, in effect, an island.
This “island” is surrounded on the southeast, south and southwest by the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. To the west, it is isolated by mountains that rise from the Arabian Sea and run through Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, stretching northward and rising higher and higher to the northwestern corner of Pakistan. There, at the Hindu Kush, the mountain chain swings east, connecting with the Pamir and Karakoram ranges. These finally become the Himalayas, which sweep southeast some 2,000 miles to the border of Myanmar, where the Rakhine Mountains emerge, and from there south to India’s border with Bangladesh and to the Bay of Bengal. The Rakhine are difficult terrain not because they are high but because, particularly in the south, they are covered with dense jungle.
The Geography of the Subcontinent
The subcontinent physically divides into four parts:
- the mountainous frame that stretches in an arc from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal;
- the North Indian Plain, stretching from Delhi southeast through the Ganges River delta to the Myanmar border, and from the Himalayas in the north to the southern hills;
- the Indian Peninsula, which juts southward into the Indian Ocean, consisting of a variety of terrain but primarily hilly;
- the deserts in the west between the North Indian Plain and Pakistan’s Indus River Valley.
Pakistan occupies the western region of the subcontinent and is based around the Indus Valley. It is separated from India proper by fairly impassable desert and by swamps in the south, leaving only Punjab, in the central part of the country, as a point of contact. Pakistan is the major modern-day remnant of Muslim rule over medieval India, and the country’s southwest is the region first occupied by Arab Muslims invading from what is today southwestern Iran and southern Afghanistan.
The third major state in the subcontinent is the Muslim-majority Ganges delta state of Bangladesh, which occupies the area southeast of Nepal. Situated mainly at sea level, Bangladesh is constantly vulnerable to inundations from the Bay of Bengal. The kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan rest on the heights of the Himalayas themselves, and therefore on the edge of the subcontinent. There is also a small east-west corridor between Nepal and Bangladesh connecting the bulk of India to its restive northeastern states and its eastern border with Myanmar. In this region is India’s easternmost state, Arunachal Pradesh, whose territory is also claimed by China.
The bulk of India’s population lives on the northern plain. This area of highest population density is the Indian heartland. It runs through the area around Lahore, spreading northwest into Pakistan and intermittently to Kabul in Afghanistan, and also stretching east into Bangladesh and to the Myanmar border. It is not, however, the only population center. Peninsular India also has an irregular pattern of intense population, with lightly settled areas intermingling with heavily settled areas. This pattern primarily has to do with the availability of water and the quality of soil. Wherever both are available in sufficient quantity, India’s population accumulates and grows.
India is frequently compared geographically to non-Russian Europe because both are peninsulas jutting out of the Eurasian land mass. They have had radically different patterns of development, however.
The Europeans developed long-standing and highly differentiated populations and cultures, which evolved into separate nation-states such as Spain, France, Germany and Poland. Their precise frontiers and even independence have varied over time, but the distinctions have been present for centuries — in many cases predating the Roman Empire. The Indian subcontinent, on the other hand, historically has been highly fragmented but also fluid (except when conquered from the outside). Over fairly short periods of time, the internal political boundaries have been known to shift dramatically.
The reason for the difference is fairly simple. Europe is filled with internal geographic barriers: The Alps and Pyrenees and Carpathians present natural boundaries and defensive lines, and numerous rivers and forests supplement these. These give Europe a number of permanent, built-in divisions, with defined political entities and clear areas of conflict. India lacks such definitive features. There are no internal fortresses in the Indian subcontinent, except perhaps for the Thar Desert.
Instead, India’s internal divisions are defined by its river systems: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Narmada and so on. All of India’s major cities are centered around one of these river systems, a fact that has been instrumental in the rise of so many distinct cultures in India — Punjabis, Gujaratis, Marathis, Tamils and others — which have manifested in modern times as states within India. That said, Indian nationalism is very strong and counters the separatist tendencies. There is a balance between a strong central governance and substantial regional autonomy.
What is permanent in the subcontinent is the frame, the mountains, and beyond these the wastelands. We can see this most clearly when looking at the population distribution of the surrounding regions. The subcontinent is isolated as a population center, surrounded by comparatively empty regions. It is not only a question of the mountains around it, although those are substantial barriers; the terrain beyond the mountains in every direction is sparsely populated, and in many ways its resources are insufficient to support a sizable, sedentary civilization. As a result, India has rarely demonstrated an appetite for adventurism beyond the subcontinent. If India can find a way to manage Pakistan and Bangladesh, there is little pressure to do anything more.

India’s Geopolitical Imperatives
The geography of the subcontinent constrains the behavior of governments that arise there. If there is to be an independent India, and if it is to be a stable and secure nation-state, it must do the following things:
Achieve suzerainty in the Ganges River basin. The broad, braided plains of the Ganges basin are among the most fertile in the world and guarantee a massive population. India must become the premier power in this heartland. This does not mean that such power must be wielded by a unified, centralized authority. A coalition of powers can be functional, and even somewhat hostile powers such as Bangladesh can be tolerated so long as they do not challenge India’s authority or security.
Expand throughout the core of the subcontinent until it reaches all natural barriers. Forests, hills and rivers aside, there is little else in the confines of the subcontinent that limits India’s writ. “Control” of the additional territories can be a somewhat informal and loose affair. The sheer population of the Ganges basin really requires only that no foreign entity be allowed to amass a force capable of overwhelming the Ganges region.
Advance past the patch of land separating the Ganges basin from the Indus River basin and dominate the Indus region (meaning Pakistan). The Indus Valley is the only other significant real estate within reach of India, and the corridor that accesses it is the only viable land invasion route into India proper. (Modern India has not achieved this objective, with implications that will be discussed below.)
With the entire subcontinent under the control (or at least the influence) of a centralized power, begin building a navy. Given the isolation of the subcontinent, any further Indian expansion is limited to the naval sphere. A robust navy also acts as a restraint upon any outside power that might attempt to penetrate the subcontinent from the sea.
These imperatives shape the behavior of every indigenous Indian government, regardless of its ideology or its politics. They are the fundamental drivers that define India as a country, shaped by its unique geography. An Indian government that ignores these imperatives does so at the risk of being replaced by another entity — whether indigenous or foreign — that understands them better.
A History of External Domination
India’s geopolitical reality — relative isolation from the outside world, a lack of imposed boundaries, the immense population and the dynamic of a central government facing a vast region — has created localized systems that shift constantly, resist central authority, and ultimately cannot be organized into a coherent whole, either by foreign occupiers or by a native government. It is a landscape of shifting political entities, constantly struggling against each other or allying with each other, amid an endless kaleidoscope of political entities and coalitions. This divided landscape historically has created opportunities for foreign powers to divide India and conquer it — and indeed, the subcontinent was under foreign domination from the 11th century until 1947.
Externally, the threats to India historically have come from the passes along the Afghan-Pakistani border and from the sea. India’s solution to both threats has been to accommodate them rather than resist directly, while using the complexity of Indian society to maintain a distance from the conqueror and preserve the cultural integrity of India. (In a sense, Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolent resistance represents the foundation of India’s historical strategy, although the historical basis for Indian nonviolent resistance has been more commercial than ethical.) But essentially, India’s isolation, coupled with its great population, allows it to maintain a more or less independent foreign policy and balance itself between great powers.
Between the 11th and 18th centuries, India was ruled by Muslims. The first invasion occupied the area of what is today Pakistan. Over the centuries — under various rulers and dynasties, particularly the Mughals — Muslims expanded their power until they dominated much of India. But that domination was peculiar, because the Muslims did not conquer the Hindus outright. Except in the area west of the Thar Desert and the Ganges delta, they did not convert masses of Indians to their religion. What they did was take advantage of the underlying disunity of India to create coalitions of native powers prepared to cooperate with the invaders. The urge to convert Hindus to Islam was secondary to the urge to exploit India’s wealth. Political and military power was a means toward this end, rather than toward conversion, and because of this, the Hindus were prepared to collaborate. In the end, the Indians’ internal tensions were greater than their resentment of outsiders.
European powers followed the Muslims into India en masse. Unlike the Muslims, they arrived from the sea, but like the Muslims, their primary motive was economic, and they sought political power as a means toward economic ends. The British, the most permanent European presence in the subcontinent, used India’s internal tensions to solidify their own position. They did not conquer India so much as they managed the internal conflicts to their advantage.
What was left behind when the British departed was the same sea of complex and shifting divisions that had defined India before they came. Most of the regions that were Muslim-majority areas became Islamic entities, eventually dividing into Pakistan and Bangladesh. The rest of India was united under a single government, but in a sense, that government ruled in the same way the British had.
The Geopolitics of Modern India
Modern India has its origins in the collapse of the British Empire. Indeed, it was the loss of India that ultimately doomed the British Empire. The entire focus of imperial Britain, from the Suez Canal to Gibraltar and Singapore, was to maintain the lines of supply to India. Many of the colonies and protectorates around the world secured by Britain in the 19th century were designed to provide coaling stations to and from India. In short, the architecture of the British Empire was built around India, and once India was lost, the purpose of that architecture dissolved as well. The historical importance of India could not be overestimated. Lenin once referred to it as the supply depot of humanity — which overstated the case perhaps, but did not overstate India’s importance to Britain.
The British gave up India for several reasons, the most important of which was commercial: The cost of controlling India had outstripped the value derived. This happened in two ways. The first was that the cost of maintaining control of the sea-lanes became prohibitive. After World War II, the Royal Navy was far from a global navy. That role had been taken over by the United States, which did not have an interest in supporting British control of India. As was seen in the Suez crisis of 1956, when the British and French tried to block Egyptian nationalization of the canal, the United States was unprepared to support or underwrite British access to its colonies (and the United States had made this clear during World War II as well). Second, the cost of controlling India had soared. Indigenous political movements had increased friction in India, and that friction had increased the cost of exploiting India’s resources. As the economics shifted, the geopolitical reality did as well.
The independence of India resulted in the unification of the country under an authentically Indian government. It also led to the political subdivision of the subcontinent. The Muslim-majority areas — the Indus Valley region west and northwest of the Thar Desert, and the Ganges River basin — both seceded from India, forming a separate country that itself later split into modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was this separatism that came to frame Indian geopolitics.
India and Pakistan, for the bulk of their mutual existence, have had an adversarial relationship. For a long time, the Indian sentiment was that Pakistan’s separation from India could have been avoided. This attitude, coupled with Pakistan’s own geographic, demographic and economic inferiority, has forced Islamabad to craft its entire foreign policy around the threat from India. As a result, the two sides have fought four wars, mostly over Kashmir, along with one that resulted in the hiving off of Bangladesh.
As noted earlier, the Indian heartland is the northern plain of the Ganges River basin. This plain is separated from Pakistan’s heartland, the Indus Valley, only by a small saddle of easily traversed land; fewer than 200 miles separate the two rivers. If India is to have any ambition in terms of expansion on land, the Indus is the only option available — all other routes end either in barriers or in near-wasteland. Meanwhile, the closeness — and sheer overwhelming size — of India is central to Pakistan’s mind-set. The two are locked into rivalry.
China and the Himalayan Wall
Apart from this enmity, however, modern India has faced little in the way of existential threats. On its side of the mountain wall, there are two states, Nepal and Bhutan, which pose no threat to it. On the other side lies China.
China has been seen as a threat to India, and simplistic models show them to be potential rivals. In fact, however, China and India might as well be on different planets. Their entire frontier runs through the highest elevations of the Himalayas. It would be impossible for a substantial army to fight its way through the few passes that exist, and it would be utterly impossible for either country to sustain an army there in the long term. The two countries are irrevocably walled off from each other. The only major direct clash between Indian and Chinese forces, which occurred in 1962, was an inconclusive battle over border territories high in the mountains — both in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Kashmiri border region of Aksai Chin — that could lead nowhere.
A potential geopolitical shift would come if the status of Tibet changed, however. China’s main population centers are surrounded by buffer states — Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. So long as all are in Chinese hands, the core of China is invulnerable to land attack. If, however, Tibet were to become independent, and if it allied with India, and if it permitted India to base substantial forces in its territory and to build major supply infrastructure there, then — and only then — India could be a threat to China. This is why the Indians for a long time championed the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence movements, and why the Chinese until fairly recently regarded this as a major threat. Had a pro-Indian, independent government been installed in Tibet, the threat to China would be significant. Because New Delhi held open the option of supporting Tibetan independence, Beijing saw the Indians as engaged in developing a threat to China.
The Chinese tried to develop equivalent threats in India, particularly in the form of Maoist communist insurgencies. Indian Maoists (Naxalites) and Nepalese Maoists have been supported by Beijing, though that support is no longer what it used to be. The Chinese have lost interest in aggressive Maoism, but they do have an interest in maintaining influence in Nepal, where the Maoists recently increased their power through electoral gains. This is China’s counter to India’s Tibet policy.
But for both, this is merely fencing. Neither would be in a position militarily to exploit an opening. Stationing sufficient force in Tibet to challenge the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would outstrip India’s resources, and for little purpose. Using Nepal as a base from which to invade India would be similarly difficult and pointless for Beijing. At the moment, therefore, there is no Indo-Chinese geopolitical hostility. However, these would be points of friction if such hostility were to occur in the distant future.

Russia, the United States and Pakistan
In the absence of direct external threats, modern India’s strategic outlook has been shaped by the dynamics of the Cold War and its aftermath. The most important strategic relationship that India had after gaining independence from Britain in 1947 was with the Soviet Union. There was some limited ideological affinity between them. India’s fundamental national interest was not in Marxism, however, but in creating a state that was secure against a new round of imperialism. The Soviets and Americans were engaged in a massive global competition, and India was inevitably a prize. It was a prize that the Soviets could not easily take: The Soviets had neither an overland route to India nor a navy that could reach it.
The United States, however, did have a navy. The Indians believed (with good reason) that the United States might well want to replace Britain as a global maritime power, a development that might put India squarely in Washington’s sights. The Indians saw in the United States all the same characteristics that had drawn Britain to India. Elsewhere, India saw the United States acting both to hurry the disintegration of the European empires and to fill the ensuing vacuum. India did not want to replace the British with the Americans — its fundamental interest was to retain its internal cohesion and independence. Regardless of American intent — which the Indians saw as ambiguous — American capability was very real, and from the beginning the Indians sought to block it.
For the Indians, the solution was a relationship, if not quite an alliance, with the Soviet Union. The Soviets could provide economic aid and military hardware, as well as a potential nuclear umbrella (or at least nuclear technical assistance). The relationship with the Soviet Union was perfect for the Indians, since they did not see the Soviets as able to impose satellite status on India. From the American point of view, however, there was serious danger in the Indo-Soviet relationship. The United States saw it as potentially threatening U.S. access to the Indian Ocean and lines of supply to the Persian Gulf. If the Soviets were given naval bases in India, or if India were able to construct a navy significant enough to threaten American interests and were willing to act in concert with the Soviets, it would represent a serious strategic challenge to the United States.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States was facing a series of challenges. The British were going to leave Singapore, and the Indonesian independence movement was heavily influenced by the Soviets. The Egyptians, and therefore the Suez Canal, also were moving into the Soviet camp. If India became a pro-Soviet maritime power, it would simply be one more element along Asia’s southern rim threatening U.S. interests. The Americans had to act throughout the region, but they needed to deal with India fast.
The U.S. solution was an alliance with Pakistan. This served two purposes. First, it provided another Muslim counterweight to Nasserite Egypt and left-leaning Arab nationalism. Second, it posed a potential threat to India on land. This would force India to divert resources from naval construction and focus on building ground and air forces to deal with the Pakistanis. For Pakistan, geographically isolated and facing both India and a not-very-distant Russia, the relationship with the United States was a godsend.
It also created a very complex geographical situation.
The Soviet Union did not directly abut Pakistan — the two were separated by a narrow strip of territory in the northeasternmost confines of Afghanistan known as the Wakhan Corridor. The Soviets could not seriously threaten Pakistan from that direction, but the U.S. relationship with Pakistan made Afghanistan a permanent Soviet interest (with full encouragement of the Indians, who wanted Pakistan bracketed on both sides). The Soviets did not make a direct move into Afghanistan until late 1979, but well before then they tried to influence the direction of the Afghans — and after moving, they posed a direct threat to Pakistan.
China, on the other hand, did border on Pakistan and developed an interest there. The aforementioned Himalayan clash in 1962 did not involve only India and China. It also involved the Soviets. India and China were both putatively allied with the Soviet Union. What was not well known at the time was that Sino-Soviet relations had deteriorated. The Chinese were very suspicious of Soviet intentions and saw Moscow’s relationship with New Delhi as potentially an alliance against China. Like the Americans, the Chinese were uneasy about the Indo-Soviet relationship. Therefore, China also moved to aid Pakistan. It was a situation as tangled as the geography, with Maoist China and the United States backing the military dictatorship of Pakistan and the Soviets backing democratic India.
From the Indian point of view, the borderland between Pakistan and China — that is, Kashmir — then became a strategically critical matter of fundamental national interest. The more of Kashmir that India held, the less viable was the Sino-Pakistani relationship. Whatever emotional attachment India might have had to Kashmir, Indian control of at least part of the region gave it control over the axis of a possible Pakistani threat and placed limits on Chinese assistance. Thus, Kashmir became an ideological and strategic issue for the Indians.

Shifting Alliances and Enduring Interests
In 1992, India’s strategic environment shifted: The Soviet Union collapsed, and India lost its counterweight to the United States. Uncomfortable in a world that had no balancing power to the United States, but lacking options of its own, India became inward and cautious. It observed uneasily the rise of the pro-Pakistani Taliban government in Afghanistan — replacing the Indian-allied Soviets — but it lacked the power to do anything significant. The indifference of the United States and its continued relationship with Pakistan were particularly troubling to India.
Then, 2001 was a clarifying year in which the balance shifted again. The attack on the United States by al Qaeda threw the United States into conflict with the Taliban. More important, it strained the American relationship with Pakistan almost to the breaking point. The threat posed to India by Kashmiri groups paralleled the threat to the United States by al Qaeda. American and Indian interests suddenly were aligned. Both wanted Pakistan to be more aggressive against radical Islamist groups. Neither wanted further development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Both were happy to be confronting the Pakistanis with more and more aggressive demands.
The realignment of Indian relations with the United States did not represent a fundamental shift in Indian geopolitics, however. India continues to be an island contained by a ring of mountains. Its primary interest remains its own unity, something that is always at risk due to the internal geography of the subcontinent. It has one enemy on the island with it, but not one that poses a significant threat — there is no danger of a new generation of Muslim princes entering from Pakistan to occupy the Indian plain. Ideally, New Delhi wants to see a Pakistan that is fragmented, or at least able to be controlled. Toward this end, it will work with any power that has a common interest and has no interest in invading India. For the moment, that is the United States, but the alliance is one of convenience.
India will go with the flow, but given its mountainous enclosure it will feel little of the flow. Outside its region, India has no major strategic interests — though it would be happy to see a devolution of Tibet from China if that carried no risk to India, and it is always interested in the possibility of increasing its own naval power (but never at the cost of seriously reshaping its economy). India’s fundamental interest will always come from within — from its endless, shifting array of regional interests, ethnic groups and powers. The modern Indian republic governs India. And that is more important than any other fact in India.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Water, Kashmir rankle in India, Pakistan talks

Thu Nov 27, 2008, Reuters
By Krittivas Mukherjee
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistan sought a "mechanism" on Wednesday to settle a dispute with India over water from the Chenab river, a row that Islamabad says could harm warming ties between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistan accuses India of violating a 1960 treaty by reducing the flow of water down the river, which flows from the Indian side of the Kashmir region into Pakistan.
India is building a dam on its part of the Chenab and Pakistan fears a shortage of water for irrigation as a result.
"We should see a mechanism is available and we should avail that mechanism to address this issue," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters after meeting his Indian counterpart.
"I am reassured that the Indian leadership is conscious of respecting the Indus Water Treaty in letter and spirit." The treaty divides up control between India and Pakistan of several rivers draining into the Indus river basin.
A World Bank team of experts conducted an inquiry into the dispute in 2005 but did not make its findings public.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said last month he would write to the Indian prime minister asking him to resolve the dispute which could harm bilateral relations that were improving since the two sides started a peace process in 2004.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said his country did not wish to deprive its neighbour of water from the Chenab, but said the problem was water scarcity.
"Even at the highest of our conflict and divergence of views between our two countries we did never stop flow of water as per the agreement," he said. "...If (water supply) is not adequate both sides suffer."
He said officials from the two sides would try to find a way to share data so that there would be no misunderstanding.
India has rejected Pakistan's contention that its Baglihar dam on Chenab reduces the flow of water and says the project is crucial for power-starved Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region over which the two sides have fought two wars.
The two sides described Wednesday's meeting as constructive, making progress on a host of thorny issues, but there was little movement forward on the issue of Kashmir.

India assures Pakistan on Chenab water

November 27th, 2008 - 12:49 am ICT by IANS - Thindian
New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) India Wednesday sought to allay Pakistan’s concerns about the alleged diversion of water from the Chenab river and underlined that water will be distributed according to the Indus Waters Treaty. “We never stopped the flow of water as per the Indus Water Treaty. It depends on the availability of water at discharge points,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi here.
“If there is no adequate water, both sides suffer,” he said at their joint press conference.
He was replying to a question by a Pakistani journalist on whether India will compensate Pakistan for the alleged loss of water amounting to 22,000 cusecs that has severely affected crops in that country.
Underlining that “no misunderstanding” should be created on this issue, Mukherjee assured Pakistan that water will be distributed according to the letter and spirit of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.
“Water commissioners and experts are meeting to find a mechanism to share data and information,” he said.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had recently said that the row over the sharing of the Chenab waters could affect bilateral ties.
Last month, the water commissioners of India and Pakistan held talks to address the issue of reduced water flow in the Chenab river which Islamabad alleges has been triggered by the construction of the Baglihar dam in Jammu and Kashmir by New Delhi. India has denied any violation of the treaty.
According to reports in the Pakistani media, Pakistan is considering to demand compensation for the alleged massive loss of more than Rs.40 billion due to the water losses in the river that has affected cultivation in its territory.

India quakes over China's water plan

Dec 9, 2008

By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE - Even as India and China are yet to resolve their decades-old territorial dispute, another conflict is looming. China's diversion of the waters of a river originating in Tibet to its water-scarce areas could leave India's northeast parched. This is expected to trigger new tensions in the already difficult relations between the two Asian giants.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is reported during his recent Beijing visit to have raised the issue of international rivers flowing out of Tibet. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said that water scarcity threatened the very "survival of the Chinese nation".
The river in question is the Brahmaputra, which begins in southwestern Tibet where it is known as the Yalong Tsangpo

River. It flows eastwards through southern Tibet for a distance of about 1,600 kilometers and at its easternmost point makes a spectacular U-turn, known as the Shuomatan Point, or the “Great Bend”. This is just before the river enters India, where it is joined by two other major rivers; from this point of confluence it is known as the Brahmaputra. It then snakes into Bangladesh, where it is joined by the Ganges River to create the world's largest delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

It is at the Great Bend that China plans to divert water, in addition to its hydroelectric power project that is expected to generate 40,000 megawatts of power. The diversion of the waters is part of a larger hydro-engineering project, the South-North water diversion scheme, which involves three man-made rivers carrying water from the icy Tibetan plateau to the arid north.

This water diversion scheme will draw from the waters of the Yalong, Dadu and Jinsha rivers, which rise in the Tibetan plateau, and channel them to the Yellow River. The aim of the project is to provide water for human use, including farming and industry in China's water-scarce areas in the north and northwest. This water diversion project involves three diversion routes - the eastern, central and western routes. The diversion of the Yalong Tsangpo at the Great Bend is the western route of the project - the most technologically challenging and controversial of the three routes.

For Beijing, the argument in favor of the water diversion project is simple. More than a quarter of China is classified as desert. Its north and northwest areas are water scarce. Increasing consumption of water, rapid industrialization and pollution have rendered the waters of many of China's rivers unusable. Besides, sections of the Yellow River run dry. In contrast, rivers that rise in the Tibetan plateau's glaciers have much water. Once completed, the water diversion scheme is expected to transfer over 40 billion cubic meters of water annually to China's water scarce areas, relieving China's thirst to a significant extent.

It is true the Tibetan plateau is a source of much water. It is Asia's principal watershed and the source of 10 of its major rivers, including the Yalong Tsangpo/Brahmaputra, the Sutlej and the Indus. China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, indeed 47% of the world's population, are dependent on water rising in the Tibetan plateau.

But while rivers with sources in the icy Tibetan plateau are rich in water, critics of the water diversion project say they are not inexhaustible, as Chinese officials claim. The Tibetan plateau is ice-covered but it is an arid desert with very little rainfall. The source of much of its water bodies and rivers is glaciers, which are melting due to global warming. If, alongside the impact of rising temperatures on glaciers, China diverts water from its natural course, Tibet will be a water-scarce region in a few decades. Critics also point to the environmental and ecological destruction it is likely to cause.

The water diversion project at the Great Bend spells disaster not only for the Tibetan plateau but also for the lower riparian countries - India and Bangladesh. These countries view the project with some concern as it represents a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people living downstream.

With the Yalong Tsangpo's waters being diverted, the amount of water in the Brahmaputra will fall significantly, affecting India's northeast and Bangladesh. It will severely impact agriculture and fishing there as the salinity of water will increase, as will silting in the downstream area.

A shortage of water in the Ganges has already affected the lives and livelihoods of millions in Bangladesh, pushing them to migrate to India, especially to its northeast. This migration of Bangladeshis has changed the demographic composition of vast tracts in the northeast (especially in Assam) and triggered serious ethnic conflicts there. A shortage of water in the Brahmaputra will accentuate these problems to dangerous levels.

There is concern too that with the water diversion project taking off, China will acquire great power and leverage over India, worsening tensions between these two countries.

Analysts have drawn attention to incidents in the past to show how vulnerable downstream areas are to what takes place upstream in Tibet. In June 2000, for instance, the breach of a dam in Tibet led to floods and left over 100 people dead or missing in Arunachal Pradesh. In August that year, swollen lakes in Tibet caused severe flooding of the River Sutlej in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, sweeping away around 100 bridges and killing scores of people. If floods upstream have a serious impact on downstream areas, the diversion of waters will have “even more devastating consequences”, an India-China watcher in India, Claude Arpi, warned.

Underscoring the implications of the project, Arpi said that issues of concern “not only pertain to the environment but also to national and international security. If Beijing goes ahead with the Tsangpo project it would practically mean a declaration of war against South Asia.”

India is watching the water diversion project with concern. It does not have a water sharing treaty with China, so it is at Beijing's mercy with regard to the Brahmaputra's waters. China's reluctance to pay heed to concerns of lower riparian countries is evident from the fact that it is unwilling to share even hydrological data on flood waters with India; this despite the fact that it is obliged under an agreement with India to do so, with regard to flood waters of the Sutlej. The two countries had also agreed to set up a joint expert-level mechanism on interstate river waters, but it has not showed any enthusiasm about moving forward on that either.

It seems that India can only watch helplessly as China steams ahead with its water diversion ambitions.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2025: the end of US dominance

• European Union will be 'hobbled giant' by 2025
• Triumph of western democracy not certain

By Julian Borger,
diplomatic editor, Thursday 20 November 2008

Article history

The country Obama inherits, the report warns, will no longer be able to 'call the shots' alone in an increasingly multipolar world. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

'It's a multi-polar world with much more uncertainty' Link to this audio The United States' leading intelligence organisation has warned that the world is entering an increasingly unstable and unpredictable period in which the advance of western-style democracy is no longer assured, and some states are in danger of being "taken over and run by criminal networks".

The global trends review, produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) every four years, represents sobering reading in Barack Obama's intray as he prepares to take office in January. The country he inherits, the report warns, will no longer be able to "call the shots" alone, as its power over an increasingly multipolar world begins to wane.

Looking ahead to 2025, the NIC (which coordinates analysis from all the US intelligence agencies), foresees a fragmented world, where conflict over scarce resources is on the rise, poorly contained by "ramshackle" international institutions, while nuclear proliferation, particularly in the Middle East, and even nuclear conflict grow more likely.

"Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed" warns that the spread of western democratic capitalism cannot be taken for granted, as it was by George Bush and America's neoconservatives.

"No single outcome seems preordained: the Western model of economic liberalism, democracy and secularism, for example, which many assumed to be inevitable, may lose its lustre – at least in the medium term," the report warns.

It adds: "Today wealth is moving not just from West to East but is concentrating more under state control," giving the examples of China and Russia.

"In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the state's role in the economy may be gaining more appeal throughout the world."

At the same time, the US will become "less dominant" in the world – no longer the unrivalled superpower it has been since the end of the Cold War, but a "first among equals" in a more fluid and evenly balanced world, making the unilateralism of the Bush era no longer tenable.

The report predicts that over the next two decades "the multiplicity of influential actors and distrust of vast power means less room for the US to call the shots without the support of strong partnerships."

It is a conclusion that meshes with president elect Obama's stated preference for multilateralism, but the NIC findings suggest that as the years go by it could be harder for Washington to put together "coalitions of the willing" to pursue its agenda.

International organisations, like the UN, seem ill-prepared to fill the vacuum left by receding American power, at a time of multiple potential crises driven by climate change the increasing scarcity of resources like oil, food and water. Those institutions "appear incapable of rising to the challenges without concerted efforts from their leaders" it says.

In an unusually graphic illustration of a possible future, the report presents an imaginary "presidential diary entry" from October 1, 2020, that recounts a devastating hurricane, fuelled by global warming, hitting New York in the middle of the UN's annual general assembly.

"I guess we had it coming, but it was a rude shock," the unnamed president writes. "Some of the scenes were like the stuff from the World War II newsreels, only this time it was not Europe but Manhattan. Those images of the US aircraft carriers and transport ships evacuating thousands in the wake of the flooding still stick in my mind."

As he flies off for an improvised UN reception on board an aircraft carrier, the imaginary future president admits: "The cumulation of disasters, permafrost melting, lower agricultural yields, growing health problems, and the like are taking a terrible toll, much greater than we anticipated 20 years ago."

The last time the NIC published its quadrennial glimpse into the future was December 2004. President Bush had just been re-elected and was preparing his triumphal second inauguration that was to mark the high-water mark for neoconservatism. That report matched the mood of the times.

It was called Mapping the Global Future, and looked forward as far as 2020 when it projected "continued US dominance, positing that most major powers have forsaken the idea of balancing the US".

That confidence is entirely lacking from this far more sober assessment. Also gone is the belief that oil and gas supplies "in the ground" were "sufficient to meet global demand". The new report views a transition to cleaner fuels as inevitable. It is just the speed that is in question.

The NIC believes it is most likely that technology will lag behind the depletion of oil and gas reserves. A sudden transition, however, will bring problems of its own, creating instability in the Gulf and Russia.

While emerging economies like China, India and Brazil are likely to grow in influence at America's expense, the same cannot be said of the European Union. The NIC appears relatively certain the EU will be "losing clout" by 2025. Internal bickering and a "democracy gap" separating Brussels from European voters will leave the EU "a hobbled giant", unable to translate its economic clout into global influence.

Disaster diary
An imaginary diary entry written by a future US president, produced to illustrate a climate-change disaster:

Those images of US aircraft carriers evacuating thousands in the wake of flooding stick in my mind. Why must the hurricane season coincide with the UN general assembly in New York?

It's bad enough that this had to happen; it was doubly embarrassing that half the world's leaders were here to witness it. I guess the problem is we had counted on this not happening, at least not yet.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

दक्षीण एसियामा जलआतंकको बढ्दो सम्भावना

सुजित मैनाली

अस्तीत्व रक्षा र शक्ति विस्तार युद्ध हुने मुख्य दुई कारणहरु हुन्। हाल विश्वअर्थराजनीतिक व्यवस्थामा देखा परेको जटिलताले यि दुबै कारणतर्फ एकैपटक संकेत गरिरहेको छ। नयाँ शैलीमा विकसlत भएको विश्वध्रुवीकरणले शक्तिकेन्द्रहरुबीच वर्चस्वको होडबाजीलाई प्रश्रय दिईरहेको छ भने यसबाट उत्पन्न हुने अस्तीत्व संकटको मनोवैज्ञानिक भयबाट विश्वको कुनैपनि राष्ट्र मुक्त छैन। यसबाट आसन्न भविष्यमा भयानक युद्ध हुने पुर्वाभास मिल्न थालेको छ।

सैद्धान्तीक विमती हाल असान्दर्भिक भईसकेकाले अबको युद्ध विचारविचको असामन्जस्यबाट उत्पन्न हुने देखिँदैन। चीन र अमेरिकाजस्ता विपरित्त राजनीतिक आस्था बोकेका राष्ट्रहरुको सम्बन्धलाई समेत आर्थिक सञ्जालले जटिल र अन्योन्याश्रीत बनाईसकेको छ। हाल पुँजीवादको वकालत गर्ने राष्ट्रहरुमा क्रमशः देखा पर्दै गईरहेको आर्थिक मन्दीबाट पुँजीबादी र समाजबादी अर्थव्यवस्थाका आधारभुत मान्यताहरु फ्युजन भई विश्वमा नयाँ आर्थिक मोडेलको प्रार्दुभाव हुने देखिएको छ। तर सँगसँगै विकसीत भएको अर्थतन्त्र र शक्तिकेन्द्रको नयाँ परिभाषाबाट शक्तिराष्टहरुबीच पृथ्वी भित्र र बाहिरको स्रोतमाथि कब्जा जमाई आफ्नो वर्चस्व सुनिश्चीत गर्ने होडबाजीले तिब्र गति लिएको छ। यस्तो होडबाजीमा नेपालजस्ता मुलुकको कुनै भुमिका नभएपनि यसबाट उत्पन्न परिस्थीतिले उनीहरुलाई आफ्नो हैसियत र स्थीतिको पुनःमुल्यांकन गर्न बाध्य बनाउँदछ।

आर्थिक समृद्धिसँगसँगै शक्तिपनि आउने भएकाले उपलब्ध स्रोतको अधिकतम परिचालनबाट बढि मुनाफा कमाउन सम्पुर्ण राष्ट्रहरु उद्धत छन्। तर स्रोतको सिमीतताले शक्तिराष्ट्रहरुबीच अस्वस्थ्य प्रतिस्पर्धाको माहौल सिर्जना गरिदिएको छ। मानवरहीत पृथ्वीका भुभागमा मात्र होइन, अर्को ग्रह-उपग्रहहरुमा रहेको सम्भावीत स्रोतमाथि आफ्नो दाबी गर्ने दिशातर्फ अमेरिका र रुसका अतिरित्त चीन र भारतजस्ता उदियमान शक्तिहरुपनि लागीपरेका छन्। यस्तो अस्वस्थ्य प्रतिस्पर्धा निम्त्याउने स्रोतहरुमा तेल, खाद्यान्न र पानी प्रमुख हुन्।

अबका दिनमा तेल, पानी र खाद्यान्न प्राप्तीको लागी युद्ध हुने देखिएको छ। तेलमाथिको युद्धले उचाई प्राप्त गरिसकेको भएपनि यसको धङधङी अझै समाप्त भईसकेको छ्रैन। इरानलाई नियन्त्रण गरी विश्वको कुल पेट्रोलीयम उर्जा उत्पादनको करिब ५० प्रतीशत भाग सुनिश्चीत गर्ने र मध्यपुर्वको इन्धन युरोप तथा अमेरिकासम्म पुर्‍याउन अफगानस्तानलाई कोरीडोरको रुपमा प्रयोग गर्न चाहने अमेरिकी महत्वाकांक्षाले उसको वर्तमान असहज आर्थिक माहौलको बाबजुत पनि विश्राम लिईसकेको छैन।
सम्भावीत युद्ध निम्त्याउने अर्को पक्ष भनेको खाद्यान्न अभाव हो। केहि समयअघि विकसित, विकाशशिल तथा अविकसीत मुलुकहरुमा खाद्यान्न अभावको प्रभाव परिसकेकाले खाद्यान्न अभावबाट उत्पन्न युद्धको पुर्वाभाष विश्वलाई भईसकको छ। औद्योगीक निर्यातबाट सम्वृद्धि हासील गरेका मुलुकहरुलाई खाद्यान्न संकटले समृद्धिको नयाँ परिभाषा प्रदान गर्यो। त्यसैले खाद्यान्न आर्यातमा निर्भर रहँदै आएको विश्वको दोस्रो विशाल अर्थतन्त्रसमेत रहेको जापानजस्तो मुलुक समेत खाद्यान्न संकटबाट अत्ताल्लीन पुगेको थियो। सिमाहिन व्यापारको दुहाई दिने राष्ट्रहरुले पनि खाद्यान्न निर्यातमा विभिन्न राष्ट्रहरुले प्रतीबन्ध लगाउदापनि केहि बोल्न सकेनन्। त्यतिबेला जापान क्षीण अवस्थामा देखा पर्यो भने भारत र चीनजस्ता खाद्यान्न उत्पादनमा आत्मनिर्भर अर्थतन्त्रहरु निर्णयक शक्तीको रुपमा स्थापित भए।

विश्वले पानीमाथिको होडबाजीलाई अहिलेसम्म प्रत्यक्ष अनुभाव गर्न पाएको छैन। अब पानीको मुहान कब्जा गर्ने होडबाजी देखीने समय करिब करिब आईसकेको छ। यस्तो होडबाजीको केन्द्र दक्षीण एसिया हुने विज्ञहरुको अनुमान छ। हिजोको लडाई जमिनको लागी लडिन्थ्यो, आजको लडाई उर्जाको लागी लडिँदैछ भने भोलीको युद्ध खाद्यान्न र पानीको लागी लडिनेछ।

सन् २००६ मा राष्ट्रसंघद्धारा जारी प्रतीबेदनले एसिया महादिपमा प्रतिव्यक्ति पानीको मात्रा ३ हजार ९ सय २० क्युबीक मिटर रहेको जनाएको थियो। पानीको मुहान मानिने हिमशृङखला यसै क्षेत्रमा रहेकाले मानवरहीत क्षेत्र अन्टाकर्टिकापछि जलश्रोतमा सम्पन्न विश्वको भुभाग एसिया हो। दक्षीण एसियामा नेपाल र चीनको स्वशाशीत क्षेत्र तिब्बतजस्ता हिमाली क्षेत्र रहनुले एसियाभित्र पानीको केन्द्र यसै स्थानमा सिमीत हुने पुगेको देखिएको छ। ‘खजानामा चोरी हुन्छ’ भनेझै पानीको लागी हुने होडबाजीको केन्द्र अब दक्षीण एसियामा बन्ने देखिएको छ।
विश्वको करिब एक तिहाई जनसंख्या दक्षीण एसियामा हुनु र औद्योगीक तथा प्राविधिक विकासमा अभुतपुर्व सफलता हासील गरेका भारत र चीनजस्ता उदियमान अर्थतन्त्रहरु यसै भुभागमा रहनुले भावी अर्थराजनीतिको केन्द्र पनि यसै क्षेत्रमा स्थानान्तरण हुने देखिएको छ। सन् २००६ मा ‘प्राईश वाटरहाउस कोपर्स’ले गरेको अध्ययनले डलरलाई आधार मानेर सन् २०५० सम्ममा चीन विश्वकै सबैभन्दा विशाल अर्थतन्त्रको रुपमा विकसित हुने, त्यसपछि अमेरिका र भारतले क्रमशः दोस्रो र तेस्रो स्थान सुनिश्चीत गर्ने जनाएको थियो। त्यसको एकवर्षपछि गोल्डम्यान साच्सका अनुसन्धानकर्ताहरुले सन् २०२७ सम्ममा चीनीया अर्थतन्त्रले अमेरिकी अर्थतन्त्रलाई पछि पार्ने र सन् २०५० सम्ममा भारतको अर्थतन्त्रले पनि अमेरिकी अर्थतन्त्रलाई उछिन्ने जनाएका थिए (श्रोत : विलियम टेब, जेडनेट डटकम)। त्यस्तै हाल विश्वमा जारी बक्यौता संकटबाट युरोपेली तथा अमेरिकी अर्थतन्त्र कमजोर हुँदै गएको समयमा चीन र भारतको राज्यनियन्त्रीत/संरक्षित बैंकको विशाल मुद्रा संचयले यि मुलुकहरुको भविष्यलाई थप सुदृढ बनाउने देखिएको छ (रोवान काल्लीक, टाइम्स अफ इण्डिया, अक्टोबर २७, २००८)। यि सबै घटनाहरुले निकट भविष्यमा दक्षिण एसियाको सुनौलो भविष्यतर्फ संकेत गरेका छन्। आफ्नो बर्चस्व गुम्ने परिवेश सिर्जना भएको देखी यसलाई निस्तेज पार्न पश्चीमा शक्तिहरुले दक्षिण एसियामा आफ्नो प्रभाव विस्तार गर्ने कार्यको थालनी गरिसकेका छन्। अमेरिका र भारतबीच भएको परमाणु सम्झौतालाई यसकै एक कडि मान्न सकिन्छ। एसियामा आफ्नो प्रभाव कायम गर्ने अमेरिकी महत्वकांक्षाको मार्गमा भारत अमेरिकाको रणनीतिमा 'सुरतको बास्सा" बन्न पुगेको छ। अमेरिकी आड पाएको भारतले निकट भविष्यमै यस क्षेत्रमा 'जल राजनीति'लाई निर्णायक आकार दिने तयारी गरिरहेको छ। विश्वशक्तिकेन्द्र बन्ने भारतको महत्वाकांक्षासँग टडकारो सम्बन्ध राख्ने दक्षिण एसियाको जलस्रोतमाथि भारतको रुचिले यस क्षेत्रमा पानी आतंक सिर्जना हुने माहौल तयार हुँदै गएको छ।

भारत र जलआतंक

चीन र भारत कृषिप्रधान मुलुक भएपनि त्यहाँ विकास भएको औधोगिक पुर्वाधारबाट आर्थिक समृद्धिका दुईवटा प्रमुख मार्गहरु देखा परेका छन्। कृषी र उद्योग सञ्चालनमा समानान्तर विकास नगरी सर्वाङ्गीण विकास हासील गर्न नसकिने यथार्थलाई यि राष्ट्रहरुले राम्रोसँग महसुस गरेका छन्। विश्वकै सबैभन्दा धेरै जनसंख्या भएको चीनको जनसंख्या वृद्धि दर घट्दो अवस्थामा रहेपनि निकट भविष्यमै भारतमा जनसंख्याको चाप अझ बढ्ने देखिएको छ। तसर्थ, बढ्दो जनसंख्यालाई आवश्यक खाद्यान्न उत्पादन गर्न भारतलाई सिचाईको लागि प्रचुर मात्रामा पानीको आवश्यकता छ। तर यसको ठीक विपरित विश्वतापमानको कारण ह्वाङ्हो, नायल, मिसिसिपी जस्ता नदीको बहाव घटिरहेको अवस्थामा भारतमा पनि यसको असर पर्न थालेको छ। भारतका नदी, नाला र तलाउमा पानीको मात्रा घटिरहेका छ भने राजस्थान, पञ्जाव, विहार, उत्तर प्रदेश लगायतका क्षेत्रमा जमिनमुनिको पानीको सतह समेत घट्दो क्रममा छ। यस्तै अवस्था जारी रहनेहो भने निकट भविष्यमै भारतमा खानेपनीको गम्भीर संकट देखा पर्ने देखिएको छ।
त्यसैगरी उद्योग सञ्चालनमार्फत समृद्धि हासिल गर्न चाहने भारतीय चाहनालाई उर्जा संकटले सीमित गरिदिएको छ। भारतको उत्तरी क्षेत्रमा हाल ९५ सय मेगावट विद्युत अपुग छ (जाहिरउल हसन, अरब अनलाईन, २६ नोभेम्बर २००८) भने भारतमा जारी १२औ पञ्चवर्षिय योजनाको अन्त्यसम्ममा उसलाई ७० हजार मेगावट उर्जाको टड्कारो आवश्यकता पर्नेछ (सौरभ सुक्ला, इण्डिया टुडे, नोभेम्बर १४, २००८)। तर सेप्टेम्बरको अन्त्यमा काठमाडौंमा भएको उर्जा सम्मेलनमा भारतका उर्जा राज्यमन्त्री जयराम रामेशले नेपाल, बंग्लादेश, पाकिस्तान, अफगानस्तान, म्यानमार, भुटान, श्रीलंका जस्ता मुलुकको सहयोगबाट भारतले १ लाख ४० हजार मेगावट विद्युत उत्पादनको तयारी गरिरहेको र आगामी दशवर्षमा विद्युत उत्पादनलाई दोब्बर बनाउने सोचमा भारत रहेको बताएका थिए। यसबाट भारतले भोगीरहेको चरम उर्जा संकटको अनुमान सहजै लगाउन सकिन्छ। कुल उर्जा मागको ७० प्रतिशत भाग आयात बाट पूरा गर्दै आएको (लिजा कर्टिस, हेरीटेज फाउण्डेशन) भारतले आर्थिक शक्तीको रुपमा स्थापित हुन उर्जामाथिको परनिर्भरता कम गर्न जरुरी छ। तर अन्तराष्ट्रिय उर्जा एजेन्सीले सन् २००५ को तुलनामा सन् २०३० मा विश्वको कूल उर्जा माग ५० प्रतिशतले वृद्धि हुने र त्यसमा पनि ४५ प्रतिशत माग चीन र भारतको कारण वृद्धि हुने जनाएकाले भविष्यमा खड्कीने थप उर्जा संकटको सामना गर्ने तयारी भारतले अहिलेदेखीनै गरिसकेको छ। यस्ता यावत् स्वार्थपुर्तिको लागी उसले दक्षिण एसियाको जलश्रोतमाथी कब्जा जमाउने स्वाभाविक कार्यको थालनी गरिसकेकाले निकट भविष्यका दक्षिण एसियामा निर्णयक रुपमा जल आतंक देखिने भएको छ। यस्तो आतंकमा नेपालजस्ता राष्ट्रहरु 'बलिको बोको' हुने सम्भावना बढेको उद्घोष गर्नु अतिशयोक्ति मात्र होइन। सस्तो लागतमा उर्जा उत्पादन गर्ने, खानेपानी आपुर्तिलाई सुनिश्चित गर्ने, सिचाइको व्यवस्था मिलाउने तथा अन्तर्देशिय जलमार्ग निर्माणको पुर्वाधार तयार गर्ने भारतीय इच्छालाई मुर्तरुप दिन दक्षीण एसियाली मुलुकको सहयोग आवश्यक देखिन्छ। त्यसमा पनि खासगरी नेपाल, पाकिस्तान र वंगलादेशको सहयोगविना भारतले लक्ष हासील गर्न सक्दैन। प्रायः सबै छिमेकी मुलुकहरुसँग कटुता बढाइसकेको भारतले आफ्नो कुटनीतिक अभिष्ट पुरा गराउन साम, दाम, दण्ड, भेदजस्ता सबैखाले रणनीति अख्तियार गर्दै आएको भएपनि जलस्रोतको मामिलामा दक्षिण एसियाका सम्पुर्ण राष्ट्रसँग भारतीय स्वार्थ बाझ्ने यथार्थलाई मध्यनजर गर्दा आफ्नो अभियानमा अरुलाई हिँडन बाध्य बनाउन भारतले बल प्रयोग गर्नुको विकल्प छैन। चीन र पाकिस्तानबीचको सैन्य सम्झौतालाई चुनौती दिन भारत र अमेरिकाबीच मैत्रिपुर्ण कुटनीतीक सहकार्यको थालनी भईसकेकाले छिमेकी मुलुकलाई आफ्नो काबुमा राख्न भारतलाई मनोबैज्ञानीक बल मिलेको यथार्थलाई पनि नकार्न सकिन्न।

क्षेत्रीय जलस्रोत कब्जा गर्न भारतले आजसम्म अख्तियार गरेको रणनीतिको अध्ययन गर्दा भारतीय स्वार्थ पूरा गर्न भारतका छिमेकी राष्ट्रहरुले ठूलो क्षति बेहोर्दै आउनुपरेको ज्वलन्त उदाहरणहरु हाम्रो सामु प्रष्ट छन्। खासगरी पाकिस्तान, बंगलादेश र नेपाल भारतीय कदमको कारण सबैभन्दा धेरै प्रताडीत हुँदै आएका छन्। भारत र पाकिस्तानबीच भएको सिन्धु जल सम्झौतासँग सम्बन्धीत वुलार ब्यारेज र बुग्लीयर बाँध, बंगलादेश र भारतबीच भएको गंगा जल सम्झौतासँग सम्बन्धीत फरक्का ब्यारेज र नेपालभारतबीच भएको कोशी, गण्डक तथा महाकाली नदी सम्झौताबाट क्रमशः पाकिस्तान, बंगलादेश र नेपालले वर्षेनी ठूलो क्षती वेहोर्दै आएका छन्। भारतीय स्वार्थ पूरा गर्न उसँग जलसम्झौता गरेका राष्ट्रको अर्थतन्त्र, खेतीयोग्य जमिन र त्यहाँको पर्यावरण धरासायी हुने यथार्थलाई हालै भत्कीएको कोशी बाँध र सिन्धु सम्झौताप्रती पाकिस्तानले अन्तराष्ट्रिय रुपमा व्यक्त गरेको असन्तुष्टिले प्रमाणीत गरिदिएको छ।
जलश्रोत कब्जा गर्न भारतले नम्र भएर छिमेकी मुलुकसँग सन्धी गर्ने र पछि सन्धीमा उल्लेखीत सम्झौताको धज्जी उडाउने कार्यलाई परम्परा नै बनाएको छ। सन् १९६० मा विश्व बैंकको मध्यस्ततामा भारत र पाकिस्तानबीच सिन्धु नदी सम्भौता सम्पन्न भएको थियो। सम्झौताअनुसार पश्चीमपट्टिको सिन्धु, झेलम र चेनाब नदी उपयोग गर्ने अधिकार पाकिस्तानलाई प्राप्त भएको थियो भने पुर्वपट्टिको राबि, सतलज र ब्यास नदी उपयोगमा भारतको अधिकार सुनिश्चित भएको थियो। तर पाकिस्तानलाई आर्थिक रुपमा जर्जर बनाउन भारतले सन्धीमा उल्लेखीत सम्झौता लत्याउँदै आएको पाकिस्तानी आरोप छ। पाकिस्तानको २३ वर्षसम्मको संघर्षपछि सिन्धु सम्झौतामार्फत नदी बाँडफाँड गर्न भारत सहमत भएको थियो भने सन्धी भएको करिब २३ वर्षपछि सन् १९८४ मा भारतले सम्झौता उल्लंघन गर्दै पाकिस्तानसँग सल्लाह नै नगरी झेलम नदीमा वुलर ब्यारेज बनाउन सुरु ग्‍र्यो। पाकिस्तानबाट यसको विरोध भएपछि भारतले तत्काल ब्यारेज निर्माण कार्य रोकेपनि अन्ततः ब्यारेज निर्माण सम्पन्न गर्नबाट भारतलाई कसैले रोक्न सकेन। सम्झैतामुताबीक भारतलाई १० हजार एकड फिट पानी जम्मा गर्ने विशेषीधान प्राप्त भएपनि वुलर ब्यारेजमा ३ लाख एकड पानी संचर गर्नसक्ने पुर्वाधार भारतले निर्माण गर्‍यो। यसबाट पाकिस्तानको कृषि, अर्थतन्त्र र पर्यावरणमा ज्यादै खराब प्रभाव पर्नगयो। त्यस्तै सन् १९९० मा भारतले चेन्नाब नदीमा बग्लीहार बाँध निर्माण गरी पुनः सहमती उल्लंघन गर्ने कार्य गर्‍यो। बाँध निर्माणबाट पाकिस्तानमा गरीबी बढ्ने, पर्यावरण सन्तुलनमा नकरात्मक प्रभाव पर्ने, बाँधबाट भारतले पाकिस्तानतर्फ बहने पानी आवश्यकता अनुसार घटाउन बढाउन सक्ने भएकाले पाकिस्तानी भूमीमा बाढी र खडेरीको समस्या देखा पर्ने, दुईदेशबीच युद्ध भएमा बाँधबाट भारतले रणनीतिक लाभ उठाउन सक्ने र पाकिस्तनको करिब ५६ लाख खेतीयोग्य जमिन डुबानमा पर्ने आरोप पाकिस्तानी पक्षले लगाउदै आएको भएपनि भारतले बाँध भत्काउने दिशातर्फ कुनै चासो देखाएको छैन। सिन्धु नदी र यसका सहायक नदीहरु जोडेर भारत र पाकिस्तानबीच पहिलेदेखीनै विवादीत रहँदै आएको सो क्षेत्रमा विश्वकै ठूलो नहर बनाउन सकिने र सो नदीले लाखौ पाकिस्तानी तथा भारतीलाई पानी उपलब्ध गराउँदै आएको भएकाले यसै विषयलाइं आधार बनाएर भारत र पाकिस्तानबीचको कटुता चुलीने सम्भावनालाई नकार्न सकिन्न। राष्ट्रसंघको साधारणसभामा भाग लिन गएका पाकिस्तानी राष्ट्रपति असिफ अलि जर्दारीले भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री डा. मनमोहन सिंहलाई नदी विवाद समाधानका लागी प्रस्ताव राखेपनि पाकिस्तानको आग्रहमाथि भारतले कुनै प्रकारको प्रतिक्रिया नजनाउनुलाई सुखद मान्न सकिन्न।

भारत र बंगलादेशबीच सन् १९९० मा भएको गंगा जलसम्झौताको विवादपनि चुलीदै गएको छ भने ब्रम्हपुत्र नदीको पानी बाँडफाँड गर्ने विषयमा दुई राष्ट्रबीच गम्भीर मतान्तर विकसित भएको छ। दुईपक्षीय सहमतीलाई अटेर गर्दै भारतले बंग्लादेशको सिमावर्ती क्षेत्रमा क्षेत्रमा फरक्का बाँध निर्माण गरेपछि दुईदेशबीचको सम्बन्ध थप असहज बनेको हो। यसबाट बांग्लादेशको कृषियोग्य जमिन डुबानमा पर्ने र कृषि उपजको उत्पादकत्वमा तिब्र ह्रास आउने, बंगलादेशको औद्योगीक उत्पादन र जमिनमुनीको पानी संचय घट्ने, माटोको ओसिलोपनमा र उर्वराशक्तीमा ह्रास आउने तथा बंगलादेशको भूभागमा खडेरी र बाढिजस्ता समस्या उत्पन्न हुने बताउँदै बंगलादेशमा सरकारी र जनस्तरबाटै भारतको हेपाहा प्रवित्तीको विरोध भईरहेको छ।
नेपाल भारत सम्बन्धको सबैभन्दा विवादीत पक्षपनि जलश्रोत नै हो। कोशी, गण्डक र महाकाली सम्झौतालाई राष्ट्रघातको संज्ञा दिँइदै आएको छ। प्रधानमन्त्रीको कार्यभार सम्हालेलगत्तै प्रधानमन्त्री पुष्पकमल दहालले कोशी बाँध भत्किएर उत्पन्न समस्याको स्थलगत भ्रमण गर्ने क्रममा कोशी जलसम्झौतालाई ऐतिहासीक भुलको संज्ञा दिएकाले भारत र नेपालबीच जलस्रोत विषयलाई लिएर मतान्तर हुने देखिएको छ। यसको अलवा कोशी उच्च बाँध निर्माण, पन्चेस्वर जलविद्युत परियोजना र कर्णालीचिसापानी जलविद्युत परियोजनालाई माध्यम बनाएर भारतले ८३ हजार मेगावट क्षमता भएको नेपाली नदी नियन्त्रणमा लिने रणनीति अबलम्बन गरेको छ। नेपाली जलस्रोतबाट भारतले जलविद्युत, सिचाई, खानेपानी र औद्योगीक विकासमा ठुलो लाभ लिने भएपनि यसको बदलामा नेपाललाई बाढि, खडेरी, आन्तरीक विस्थापन र भारतीकरण भएको नेपाली अर्थतन्त्र मात्र मिल्ने देखिएको छ। बरिष्ठ जलस्रोतविद् अजय दिक्षीत सप्तकोशी उच्च बाँधबाट मात्र नेपालको १ सय ९२ वर्ग किलोमीटर भुभाग डुब्ने बताउँछन्। यसबाट तराईका ७९ वटा गाविस डुबानमा पर्ने र नेपालको कूल कृषी उत्पादकत्वमा प्रतिवर्ष १० हजार टन खाद्यान्न उत्पादनमा कमि आउने उनको भनाई छ। यसको अलावा कर्णाली चिसापानी र पञ्चेश्वर परियोजनाबाट पनि लाखौ नेपाली विस्थापीत हुने अवस्था उत्पन्न हुने देखिएको छ। प्रधानमन्त्रीको भारत भ्रमणका क्रममा भारतले नौमुरे परियोजना नेपाललाई उपहारस्वरुप टक्र्याएपनि नौमुरेमार्फत विगतमा असफल भएको राप्ती नदीमा ५७ मिटर अग्लो बाँध बनाई भारतको उत्तर प्रदेशलाई आर्थिक समृद्धि प्रदान गर्ने भारतको रणनीति बुझ्न आवश्यक छ। कोशी उच्च बाँध लगायतका विवादीत पक्षमा नेपाल सरकारले भारतप्रति सदासयता प्रदर्शन गरेपनि स्थानीय स्तरमा यसको तिब्र विरोध भईरहेको स्थीतिको मुल्यांकन गर्दा जलस्रोतसँग सम्बन्धीत विषयबाट सरकार र जनताबीच दुरी बढ्ने स्थीति विकसीत भईरहेको छ।

दक्षिण एसियाली राष्ट्रहरुलाई फकाउने, लोभ्याउने र अन्तिममा तर्साउने भारतको रणनीति आंशिक रुपमा सफल हूँदै आएको भएपनि यसै क्षेत्रमा रहेको अर्को विश्वशक्ति चीनको उपस्थितिबाट भारत निकै त्रसित छ। चीनको स्वशासित क्षेत्र तिब्बत ब्रम्हपुत्र, गंगा जस्ता नदीको उद्गम केन्द्र हो। यी नदीहरु भारतीय अर्थतन्त्रका मुटु हुन्। तर जलस्रोतविद् राष्ट्रपति रहेको राष्ट्र चीन हाल मानवनिर्मित विशाल नहर बनाउने योजनामा छ। आफ्नो योजनालाई मुर्तरुप दिन चीनले तिब्बतबाट सुरु हुने नदीहरुलाई आफ्नै भुभागपिट्ट फर्कायो भने भारतको अर्थतन्त्र धराशायी हुनुको अलावा हाल खाद्यान्न निर्यातकर्ताको हैसियत बनाएको भारतसँग आत्मनिर्भर हुन पर्याप्त खाद्यान्न उत्पादन हुने स्थीतिको अन्त्य हुनेछ (पाकिस्तान अब्जरभर, नोभेम्बर १६)। भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री डा. सिंहले आफ्नो पछिल्लो चीन भ्रमणका क्रममा चीनीया अधीकारीहरुसँग तिब्बतबाट बग्ने नदीका विषयमा गम्भीर कुरा उठाएको बताएबाट जलस्रोतको सवालमा भारतको छटपटिको अनुमान सहजै लगाउन सकिन्छ।

यि सबै विषयहरुहरुको अध्ययन गर्दा दक्षिण एसियाको जलस्रोतसम्बन्धमा दक्षिण एसियाली राष्ट्रहरुबीच देखिएको मतमतान्तरले निकट भविष्यमा युद्धको रुप लिँदैन भन्न सकिन्न। तसर्थ, सम्भावीत युद्धको प्रभावलाई न्युनिकरण गर्दै राष्ट्रिय स्वार्थलाई अक्षुण राख्न नेपाली नेतृत्वले कुटनीतिक चातुर्य प्रदर्शन गर्ने समय आइसकेको छ। नेपालको राजनीति, अर्थतन्त्र, इतिहास र सामाजीक, सांस्कृतीक पक्ष भारतउन्मुख भएकाले नेपालको लागी जलस्रोत कब्जा गर्ने भारतको महत्वकांक्षा र यसदिशामा उसले सुरु गरेको जलआतंक चीनको तुलनामा कैयौगुना वेफाइदाजनक छ। दश वर्षमा दशहजार मेगावाटको नारालाई मुर्तरुप दिन नेपाली नदी अन्धाधुन्ध रुपमा भारतलाई सुम्पीदै जाने हो भने निकट भविष्यमा नेपालले भारतको उज्यालो मुहार मात्र देख्न पाउनेछ।

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mumbai Investigation Focuses on Possible Indian Collaborators

The use of new land and sea routes, investigators say, has widened the theater of war beyond Kashmir and into the Indian heartland, as well as cosmopolitan cities such as Hyderabad and Bangalore, both of which were recently the scene of bombings.
"When it became more difficult for them to cross the Line of Control into Kashmir from
Pakistan, the militants found other routes," said Ajay Sahni, a counterterrorism expert and executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi. "Nepal is a completely unpoliced border, with a mixed population living all along the border, and they cross over with absolutely no documentation on a daily basis. Many people from Bangladesh come into India to work and return in the evening. These are very poorly policed; the fences are not well maintained," he said.
Use of the routes by extremists, analysts say, could force India to seek better cooperation from its eastern neighbors, just as it has with its western neighbor, Pakistan.
The focus on possible Indian collaborators comes nearly two weeks after the assault on India's financial capital, in which gunmen opened fire at several sites and laid siege to two luxury hotels and a Jewish outreach center, killing at least 171 people, including six Americans, and wounding more than 230.
Ahmed is being brought to Mumbai for questioning over his alleged links to Lashkar, the group that is said to have masterminded the attacks. Indian police arrested Ahmed, along with another suspect, Faheem Ansari, 35, earlier this year in connection with a grenade attack on a police camp.
It is unclear whether Ahmed was involved in the Mumbai assault. Ansari apparently had a map of Mumbai, with targets in last month's attacks highlighted. Police say Ansari may have been preparing for the attacks for more than a year.
Ansari sent detailed video clips and maps of key South Mumbai locations to Lashkar commanders through a conduit in Nepal, police say. Some of the locations were targeted by the gunmen. Ahmed had helped bring gunmen from Nepal for at least two attacks, in 2005 and 2007, police say.

In the days after the Mumbai siege, India demanded that Pakistan crack down on the militant groups it suspected of planning the attacks, arrest its leaders and extradite them for trial in India. Pakistan has refused to hand them over, but several have been rounded up in raids. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani confirmed Wednesday the arrest of two prominent militant leaders.
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Mumbai Investigation Focuses on Possible Indian Collaborators
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Rakesh Maria, Mumbai's chief police investigator, said there was further evidence of links between the Pakistan-based Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar. Pakistan has said it is investigating the charity.
Maria said the head of the charity, Hafiz Sayeed, "gave a motivational speech to the 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai at the end of their training." Maria said the evidence was gleaned from Azam Amir Kasab, the only surviving gunman. Indian police announced Wednesday that Kasab would be charged with 12 offenses, including "murder, criminal conspiracy and waging war against the state."
The United States has been assisting in India's investigation,
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
"Where we've been asked, we are working with the Indians to provide them intelligence" to prevent such attacks, he said at a Pentagon news conference.
"It shouldn't be lost on anyone how a handful of well-trained terrorists, using fairly unsophisticated tools in a highly sophisticated manner, held at bay an entire city and nearly brought to a boil interstate tensions between two nuclear powers," he said.
Mullen said he had discussed with Pakistan's leadership the troubling role of its
Inter-Services Intelligence agency. "There's a rich history here of ISI fomenting challenges, particularly in Kashmir. And everybody is aware of that. We're aware of that, the Indians are aware of that, the Pakistanis are aware of that, as is the international community writ large," he said.
U.S. military officials have said they have no evidence that the ISI was directly involved in the Mumbai attacks, although Indian officials have suggested a link. Pakistan has denied that anyone in its government was involved.

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson in Washington contributed to this report.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rivers of conflict

Saurabh Shukla
November 14, 2008 , India Today

James Bond films have an overdose of action, but they have one thing that is close to reality—the central plots usually spot global faultlines right. In the latest one, Quantum of Solace, the plot involves a rogue organisation trying to trade off lucrative water supply contracts in exchange of support for a coup attempt by a renegade military commander.
It’s no longer the quest for territory or even oil, but it may be that the squabble for water resources could trigger the conflicts of the future. And closer home, in India’s immediate neighbourhood, water issues are creating problems.
Weighed down by projections that the per capita availability of water in India may go down drastically, and with estimates that India would have a power shortfall of about 70,000 MW at the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, the Government wants to increase the number of hydropower projects.
This would mean closer cooperation with neighbours with access to water resources—something giving South Block anxious moments. India is now engaged in resolving numerous water-related disputes with almost all its land neighbours—Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and China.
In September this year, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, water issues topped the agenda and if the recent sabre-rattling by Islamabad is any indication, the focus may soon shift from the K word to the W word for water.
Last month, diplomatic sources say, Pakistan officially raised the issue at the Indus Water Commission meeting, seeking compensation for its farmers and accusing India of diverting the water of the Jhelum. It has alleged that India has reduced the flow of the Chenab to less than 55,000 cusecs, which Pakistan is entitled to under the treaty. It now seeks damages for the alleged loss to its farmers, a charge that has been contested by India.
River waters between India and Pakistan have been shared under the IndusWater Treaty in 1960, which allots three eastern rivers (the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) to India and the three western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) to Pakistan. Being the upper riparian state, India is allowed to have a run of the river projects that do not stop the flow of water of the three rivers allotted to Pakistan.
“Water is a precious resource and every country has an equitable share of these resources. We have settled our problems with our neighbours through treaties which are working well. They have made some demands and we are settling them through institutional mechanisms,” says External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Troubled treaties
Despite more than two dozen institutional mechanisms and a slew of treaties, India’s water troubles with its neighbours have only grown over time.
The Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960 allots rivers Ravi, Sutlej,Beas to India, and the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan.
The Ganges Water Treaty was signed in 1996 for sharing water at the Farrakha Barrage.But water sharing during lean season is disputed.
The Mahakali Treaty was signed with Nepal in 1996, but remains stalled.The two countries have signed five agreements and eight bilateral mechanisms exit but the progress has been tardy.
No water treaty or institutional mechanism with China.The ad hoc arrangement is a handicap, and may have dangerous consequences.
While the minister is diplomatic about the issue, the fact is that the issue of water resources bitterly divides India and Pakistan. Last year Pakistan took the Baghlihar issue for international arbitration, where the expert ruled in favour of India and allowed it to go ahead with the project.
The Rs 4,500-crore Baghlihar project on the Chenab in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has assumed a large political dimension because of one key reason. Pakistan believes it will act as a catalyst for New Delhi’s plans to bring economic progress to J&K. Pakistan also has apprehensions that India’s plans to build dams on its rivers may lead to water shortage and even floods if India were to release excess water.
In another project, the Kishanganga project on the Jhelum in J&K, Pakistan has protested saying that diversion of flow will adversely impact its agriculture and hydroelectric use. Since India changed the project from a storage scheme to a run of the river plant because of submergence concerns, Pakistan now says that it has to be discussed fresh and that it may create environmental damage to the Neelum valley, a charge Indian officials deny.
Diplomatic sources say that the battle is over the use of the waters of the Jhelum, and Pakistan is desperate to complete its own Neelum-Jhelum project to establish first claim over the waters. The water problems between the two do not end here, as a deadlock has ensued since 1987 on the Tulbul navigation project started by India in 1984, on river Jhelum between Baramulla and Anantnag.
Pranab MukherjeePakistan had raised objections and forced India to suspend work on the project. It has been 11 years and more than eight rounds of meetings have happened since then under the composite dialogue process, but the deadlock hasn’t been sorted out.
Tension is mounting on the eastern flank too with Bangladesh as water tops the bilateral disputes agenda. Though the Ganges Water-Sharing Treaty (GWST) was signed between India and Bangladesh in 1996 to resolve the dispute over sharing of water at the Farrakha Barrage, differences continue on Bangladesh’s share of water during lean periods.
Dhaka has alleged in bilateral meetings that the large number of hydropower projects that India has on the river Ganga have reduced the flow of water. Another thorny issue is the dispute over sharing of the waters of river Teesta where the two countries have not been able to agree to a formula for sharing the water. Now the water resources secretaries are scheduled to meet to settle the issue.
In the case of Nepal too, water issues continue to plague bilateral relations. The Maoist Government, led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has been demanding the dismantling of existing water treaties, dubbing these as unequal. For India and Nepal it may be a mutually-beneficial relationship if the two countries are able to create a series of hydropower projects that will bring power to India and economic benefits to Nepal, but political issues have derailed any progress.
International arbitration cleared the way for India to go ahead with the Rs 4,500-cr Baghlihar project over the Chenab to generate 450 MW power.
Pakistan alleges that India is violating the Indus Water Treaty that governs water sharing between them and wants compensation for its farmers.
Nepal and India signed the Mahakali Treaty in 1996, but despite ratification by the Nepalese Parliament, the treaty remains stalled. Currently the two countries are engaged in discussions for three big projects—the Pancheshwar Multipurpose project, Saptakosi high dam project and the Karnali project.
India’s water woes continue with China that controls a bulk of the rivers originating from the Tibetan plateau flowing into many Asian countries. Already, there are fears that it may be building dams and diverting water of the Upper Brahmaputra river in Tibet. In the long term if these water-related issues stay unresolved they will impede India’s growth and would puncture its aspirations of being a major global player.
“Water is an important natural resource, and we are willing to settle all disputes under institutional mechanisms that we have, but our neighbours also have to be flexible. Water is scare and if we settle our disputes and move in for joint projects it will be a win-win relationship for all of us,” says U.N. Panjiar, secretary, Ministry of Water Resources.
There is an urgent need to have an integrated water policy for South Asia to conserve and tap resources in a sustainable manner. Besides, efforts should also be made to develop the concept of a South Asia inland navigation system. SAARC can play a pivotal role here.
It may be a good idea to get the private sector involved, but with checks and balances. It will ensure economic interdependence that can help tide over political problems, and hopefully it would be able to stop what may escalate into South Asia’s water wars.