ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Lyla MehtaSubscribe to Lyla Mehta

Uncertainty in Climate Science

In May 2018, multiple extreme weather events claimed scores of lives, damaged property and brought public life to a standstill in parts of India. In the aftermath of these events, a blame game ensued with some assigning responsibility to scientific and state agencies, and others calling for more research and accurate weather forecasts. It is important to recognise the uncertainties in climate science and embrace them in order to channel resources appropriately, attribute causality, build public trust, and improve policy effectiveness.

The Tsunami and Globalised Uncertainty

The tsunami triggered by the earthquake of December 26 represented uncertainty on a global scale. The extent of the disaster and the uncertainties it gave rise to - in terms of knowledge, the impact on environment and livelihoods - have rarely been experienced in recent decades. On the other hand, coordination of relief must be truly on a globalised scale to prevent a 'second tragedy' that could result from improper rehabilitation efforts.

Contexts and Constructions of Water Scarcity

What makes water scarce? This paper argues that water scarcity is both 'real' and 'constructed'. While manufactured through political and policy processes, a combination of socio-political, discursive and institutional factors, water scarcity is experienced in terms of real, tangible effects. By focusing on the case of 'water-scarce' Kutch and its relationship with the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project, this paper argues that state discourses and programmes essentialise scarcity as a natural phenomenon that enables the political legitimisation of large dams. In the process, they also marginalise local knowledge systems and livelihood strategies that are adapted to conditions of uncertain and limited water supply.

Reflections on the Kutch Earthquake

Despite the recent earthquake that wreaked havoc across Kutch, its people have long since learnt to cope with disasters and adapt their lives to the vagaries of nature. Yet while powerful social and political factors continue to manipulate calamities, it is equally important that administrators and NGOs understand Kutch's landscape history to make sense of the present earthquake and to ensure the rebuilding of Kutch is done sensitively and appropriately.

Drought Diagnosis

State-sponsored interventions in Kutch have not only failed to mitigate water scarcity but have exacerbated problems in some areas. This is largely due to the dryland blindness of planners who have applied solutions from the rest of Gujarat to Kutch instead of designing strategies suited to the region. What Kutch needs is rainwater harvesting, livestock development and better techniques of dryland agriculture.

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