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

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The Work of Anupam Mishra

Sustaining Water Regimes

Anupam Mishra’s work on how the indigenous water systems of Rajasthan have sustained a water regime not only made it possible for a robust civilisation to thrive in the desert but along with his writings on sustainable use of water, also inspired a college lecturer to find solutions to her domestic water problem. 

Nearly a decade ago I came to live at the teachers’ quarters in the salubrious premises of Gargi College located adjacent to the historic Siri Fort Wall in South Delhi. It took me very little time to discover that the residential complex had a water system which worked arbitrarily or did not work so far as I was concerned. My quarter was the last in the water supply chain and hardly received any water, the resource most critical to our daily lives. A long-time resident there who was familiar with the eccentricities of the system explained that this scarcity occurred since water needs to find its own pressure. All the preceding tanks need to be full in order for the water to gush forward into the pipelines. My tank being the last, received its supply only after those preceding it got filled. The previous residents of the quarter corroborated this information.

Struggling to find ingenuous solutions to my domestic water problem, I got interested in water infrastructures and started paying careful attention to possible local water management and conservation systems I could adopt in my individual capacity. Guided by this new interest I was introduced to the seminal work of activist Anupam Mishra on how Rajasthan manages its water in spite of receiving it so parsimoniously. His books on the indigenous water cultures of Rajasthan—The Radiant Raindrops of Rajasthan and Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talab —provided me with ideas that brought to my mind what YiShan Lea wrote about “alternative political referents potentially free our attachment to the status quo” (2013: 307). These referents provoked an interrogation of the dominant water paradigm that I grew up believing in during my upbringing and education as a city dweller.

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