India Insight

From AlertNet: Water scarcity compounds India’s food insecurity

These are the personal views of Siddharth Chatterjee  and do not reflect those of his employer, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Follow him on Twitter: @sidchat1

 

Since India’s independence, the mammoth task of feeding its hundreds of millions, most of whom are extremely poor, has been a major challenge to policymakers. In the coming decades, the issue of food insecurity is likely to affect almost all Indians. However, for the poorest amongst us, it could be catastrophic. India ranks 65 of 79 countries in the Global Hunger Index. This is extremely alarming.

In the past few years, uneven weather patterns combined with over exploited and depleting water resources in various parts of India have wreaked havoc on food security, particularly for small and marginal farmers, as well as the rural poor.

The recently launched Global Food Security Index (GFSI) estimates that in 2012, there are 224 million Indians, around 19 percent of the total population, who are undernourished. The same report also estimates that while the Indian government has various institutions designed to deal with the impact of inflation on food prices, it only spends 1 percent of agricultural GDP on research to build food security for the poorest. Overall, India ranked 66th on the GFSI. It is estimated that one in four of the world’s malnourished children is in India, more even than in sub-Saharan Africa.

Water insecurity, further exacerbated by climate change, is arguably the most important factor for India’s food security. India’s total water availability per capita is expected to decline to 1,240 cubic metres per person per year by 2030, perilously close to the 1,000 cubic metre benchmark set by the World Bank as ‘water scarce’.

from The Human Impact:

Rage in India a spotlight on Sri Lanka’s war victims

Almost four years since Sri Lanka's war ended, rage over the lack of rehabilitation for thousands of survivors of the bloody 25-year-long civil conflict has surfaced - not on the war-torn Indian Ocean island itself, but in neighbouring India.

India's Tamil Nadu state -- where the majority Tamil ethnic group have a close association with Tamils living across the Palk Straits in Sri Lanka - have long felt their brothers have been discriminated against by the Sinhalese-ruled government.

The war, pitting separatist Tamil Tigers against President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Sri Lankan Armed Forces, saw tens of thousands of mainly Tamil civilians in the north and east of the island killed or injured, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Thirsty South Asia’s river rifts threaten “water wars”

As the silver waters of the Kishanganga rush through this north Kashmir valley, Indian labourers are hard at work on a hydropower project that will dam the river just before it flows across one of the world's most militarised borders into Pakistan.

The loud hum of excavators echoes through the pine-covered valley, clearing masses of soil and boulders.

The 330-MW dam shows India's growing focus on hydropower but also highlights how water is a growing source of tension with downstream Pakistan, which depends on the snow-fed Himalayan rivers for everything from drinking water to agriculture.

Is Sri Lanka “careering back to where it was” after election?

Sri Lanka’s bloody 25-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers ended in May but commentators reflecting on the country’s first post-war elections last weekend expressed little optimism about a peaceful future for the Indian Ocean island.

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance swept to victory in Sinhalese-dominated Uva province and scraped a win in Jaffna, while the Tamil National Alliance — political allies of the defeated rebels — won control of Vavuniya. Both Jaffna and Vavuniya are just outside the shadow state which the Tigers controlled for decades.

“The victory in Jaffna, the heartland of the country’s ethnic minority Tamils and birthplace of militancy, will give the government a chance to claim it as an endorsement of its handling of ethnic relations, postwar rehabilitation and a rejection of separatism,” Krishan Francis of the Associated Press wrote in the Washington Post.

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