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Towards Water Wisdom

Towards Water Wisdom
Limits, Justice, Harmony

First Edition

August 2007 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd
Towards Water Wisdom makes a fervent plea for an urgent and radical transformation of our thinking on water. The author redefines the projected water crisis as one of mismanagement rather than scarcity, and calls for a more equitable, harmonious and sustainable management of the resource.

Water-related conflicts are also discussed, including the Indus Treaty, the differences over Baglihar, the Cauvery and Ravi-Beas disputes, and rehabilitation problems in the Narmada Valley. The author questions the idea of property rights in water and argues that the fundamental or human right to water must take precedence over contractual and economic rights. The inadequacies of India`s water laws and policies are examined and a case made for a constitutional declaration on water and a national water law.

Finally, the author widens the perspective and draws attention to a changing world that makes a change in our thinking imperative.
Preamble: Understanding Water
Water Crisis: The Mainstream View
The Water Scene in India
Water Governance
The Question of Politicization
Re-Examining Past Thinking
The Question of Demand
Crisis or Crises?
Crisis of Understanding
Apotheosis of Fallacy: ILR Project
Supply-Side Conundrum
Indus Treaty: A Re-Examination
Differences over Baglihar
The Cauvery Dispute: Continuing Impasse
The Punjab Imbroglio
River-Water Disputes: Some Reflections
Narmada: Abandoning the Displaced
Profit versus Life
Privatization, Markets
Legal Inadequacies and Perplexities
Policies: Muddled or Worse?
Transforming the Laws: A Constitutional Declaration on Water?
Transforming the Laws: A National Water Law?
Issues and Concerns in the Neighbourhood
Some International Formulations: A Critique
A Parenthesis on a Different View
Some Glimmers of Hope
Towards Wisdom on Water
The Larger Framework: New Thinking for a Changing World
References and Select Bibliography

It is an informative and easy read, written by an author qualified and experienced enough to know the reality of the water scenario, and bold enough to critique the various alternative positions…. Its message is directed to all members of society and not solely those in positions of authority or power. Though focused upon India and South Asia, the book’s case studies are of global relevance and significance. Ramaswamy Iyer’s message is wholly positive and constructive, and supportive towards the poor and the environment. This philosophical text is an important contribution to the global struggle for a wiser management of our most vital resource.

Journal of South Asian Development

This is a timely and must-read volume presenting an overall scenario on water and conflicts over water….Towards Water Wisdom is like a reader for those seeking a comprehensive account of the water scenario, especially conflicts over water in the country. But as one digs deeper it seems as good as a policy document on some very important water debates of contemporary times, including perspectives on water privatisation, rehabilitation and environmental considerations that are corollaries to the water issue….an immensely useful addition to literature on water issues.


This remarkable book attempts to showcase the essential features of India’s—and to an extent the world’s—water sector and point the way towards achieving equity and harmony in the use and sharing of our water resources…There are many books on India’s water sector these days, but few take a holistic view of the sector as this one does. The book is remarkable for its clarity, even when expressing views that go against accepted wisdom. The author’s narrations of the international and interstate water sharing disputes are informative, analytical and provide thoughtful suggestions.

Down to Earth

The book is valuable for the understanding of water problems and issues in a lucid manner and would be useful not only for the scholars and policy-makers but also for the common man.

The Book Review

The author highlights that water, a simple and familiar feature of our daily life, is in fact a highly complex phenomenon with multiple aspects. There is little knowledge of the concepts of hydrosphere, hydrological cycle, hydrological unity and much less appreciation of the finite nature of the quantum of water on earth.

Business India

Thought-provoking book, Quickly takes us through the various conflicts that have marked the use and misuse of water since Independence. Looks at the various demand-driven policies made by the governent for the management of water.

The Tribune

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ISBN: 9780761935858