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

P S Vijay ShankarSubscribe to P S Vijay Shankar

India's Groundwater Challenge and the Way Forward

The groundwater crisis is acquiring alarming proportions in many parts of the country. Strategies to respond to groundwater overuse and deteriorating water quality must be based on a new approach involving typologising the resource problems and redefining the institutional structure governing groundwater. This approach is based on the notion of groundwater as common property. The complex nature of groundwater problems in India implies that a detailed understanding of regimes in different hydrogeological settings and socio-economic situations is the prerequisite for sustainable and equitable management. Further, the management strategies should be specified keeping aquifer-scales in mind. For the adoption of this new approach, reforms are needed in how we assess groundwater resources, map aquifers, monitor quality and in the legal and institutional framework for groundwater governance. A national programme of groundwater management based on this processspecific approach is needed to address the challenge.

Groundwater: Towards an Aquifer Management Framework

This article outlines an "aquifer management" approach towards utilisation of groundwater resources, which are rapidly being depleted across the country. The question of groundwater governance in India is twofold. First, we need to substantially support and empower the community-based systems of decision-making. Second, the existing legal framework and groundwater management institutions have to be fundamentally re-engineered to play a role facilitating and enabling community action.

Two Years of NREGA: The Road Ahead

It is not possible to realise the massive potential of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act if we deploy the same ossified structure of implementation that has deeply institutionalised corruption, inefficiency and non-accountability into the very fabric of Indian democracy. On the other hand, if the reforms suggested in this paper are put into place, NREGA holds out the prospect of transforming the livelihoods of the poorest and heralding a revolution in rural governance in India.

Rural Credit in 20th Century India

This overview of rural credit in 20th century India finds a remarkable continuity in the problems faced by the poor throughout the period. These include dependence on usurious moneylenders and the operation of a deeply exploitative grid of interlocked, imperfect markets. We articulate the theoretical and historical case for nationalisation of banks and provide evidence of its positive impact on rural credit and development. Certain excesses led to the reforms of the 1990s, which did increase bank profitability but at the cost of the poor and backward regions. While the microfinance institution model is unsustainable, the self-help group-bank linkage approach of MF can make a positive impact on security and empowerment of the disadvantaged. Much more than MF is, however, needed to overcome the problems that have persisted over the last 100 years.

Government 'Schedule of Rates'

The Schedule of Rates that state governments currently use to value work done by labour employed in schemes needs to be substantially revised if the promise of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is to be realised. The schedules now have an inherent pro-contractor bias, encourage the use of machinery and make it virtually impossible for labourers to earn minimum wages.

Four Decades of Agricultural Development in MP

This paper is a tentative attempt at understanding 40 years of development experience of Madhya Pradesh, focusing on inter-regional differences in the pattern of agricultural growth. Given the overwhelming importance of agriculture in the state economy, a breakthrough in rainfed dryland agriculture can be said to hold the key to development of MP. The performance of the agro-ecological sub-regions within the state has been highly variable, adding another dimension to the unique significance of MP in the national scene. The state can be said to typify the two most important development experiences in India's rainfed agriculture - the near stagnation of the relatively high rainfall eastern region and the increasingly unsustainable tubewell-led agricultural development in the hard rock regions of the country. In our view, backwardness of large segments of Indian agriculture stems from an inability to develop an appropriate location-specific strategy of development for areas where the green revolution approach has no future.
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