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

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Water Governance Reform

The Mihir Shah Committee report demands a paradigm shift, bringing the ecosystems perspective to the ways water is governed in India. This article argues that these governance reforms, though essential, are not enough to enable the paradigm shift necessary for sustainability and ecological justice. But it may be a great place to begin.

Comment on the Proposed National Water Commission

Describing the tasks proposed for the National Water Commission as visionary, varied, and vast, this article underlines that ensuring high performance, accountability, speedy implementation, and cost effectiveness to India’s water management is a massive challenge. Highlighting three major problem areas, it suggests possible ways forward.

Merits Undeniable despite Drawbacks

While welcoming the overall thrust of the Mihir Shah Committee report and its suggestion for a National Water Commission of technical experts to assist the states, this article underscores that it does have some blind spots. These would include its non-inclusion of waterbodies and preference for floodplain zoning, among others.

The Way Forward

The chair summarises background, main features, and addresses some of the issues raised by the articles in this issue.

An Important Step in Reforming Water Governance

While appreciating that restructuring two of the most important water institutions in the country is embedded in the alternative agenda proposed for the water sector in the Mihir Shah Committee report, this article asserts that new ideas and vision need new institutions.

Evolution of Irrigation Sector

Charting the historical evolution of irrigation in India, this article looks into the nature of shifts that have occurred over the years, and the major challenges it faces now. While the Mihir Shah Committee’s recommendation of creating a National Water Commission is welcome, it suggests that the new body operate on the lines of an independent think tank.

Water Crisis in Punjab and Haryana

After the Green Revolution, Punjab and Haryana have become water-scarce states due to the introduction of paddy as the main kharif crop, a massive increase in cropping intensity, and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. However, the real issue--of reverting to sustainable cropping patterns and improving water-use efficiency--remains unaddressed. An improvement of 15% to 20% in water-use efficiency from the present level can provide each state with the increased water share it is demanding.

Farmer Suicides in India's Breadbasket

Agrarian Distress and Farmer Suicides in North India by Lakhwinder Singh, Kesar Singh Bhangooand Rakesh Sharma; New Delhi: Routledge India;pp 229, ₹895.

Punjab: Farm Household Income, Investment and Consumption

The significant early successes of the green revolution in Punjab have given way to stagnating farm household incomes and consumption since the 1990s. The low investment in education has also resulted in a failure to diversify into non-farm employment avenues in rural areas.

Nutritional Well-Being and Gender Differences

How much difference does economic growth make to the nutritional well-being of young children? What effect does it have on traditional child care practices, and specifically on the tendency to favour male children? A follow-up 30 years after a classic study carried out in 1971 in Punjab villages indicates changes that are dramatic, but also that rapid economic growth, while necessary, may not have been sufficient.

Reforms in Agricultural Extension

The changing economic scenario and the need to respond to food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, diversifying market demands, export opportunities, and environmental concerns pose new challenges to technology dissemination systems. This paper argues for a holistic reappraisal of existing agricultural extension systems and the need to work towards an outlook that encompasses a whole new policy mix favouring a plurality of institutions.

Revisiting Agrarian Issues

Land Reform and Peasant Livelihoods: The Social Dynamics of Rural Poverty and Agrarian Reform in Developing Countries edited by Krishna B Ghimire; ITDG Publishing, London, 2001; pp xvii+253, price not mentioned. Green Revolution Reconsidered: The Rural World of Contemporary Punjab by Himmat Singh; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001; pp xii+302, Rs 595.

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