Thanneer Thanneer

... is the Tamil movie by K Balachander, made in 1972, a powerful film on the scarcity of water. And on political corruption, governmental apathy, and so on. It remains a good movie, and regrettably, also remains very current.

Today, 22 March, is World Water Day. Jalsamvaad, an organization in Delhi asks civil society members to come together for a united action on water issues in Delhi- listening, learning, dialogue. They make a call for equal access of quality water for all. And ask if Delhi wants water at the cost of other people?

Ramaswamy R Iyer has written frequently and at length on issues relating to water. His Towards Water Wisdom, a modern classic, makes a fervent plea for an urgent and radical transformation of our thinking on water. The author redefines the projected water crisis as one of mismanagement rather than scarcity, and calls for a more equitable, harmonious and sustainable management of the resource.

Water-related conflicts are also discussed, including the Indus Treaty, the differences over Baglihar, the Cauvery and Ravi-Beas disputes, and rehabilitation problems in the Narmada Valley. The author questions the idea of property rights in water and argues that the fundamental or human right to water must take precedence over contractual and economic rights. The inadequacies of India`s water laws and policies are examined and a case made for a constitutional declaration on water and a national water law.

Another book that is worth remembering today is the Centre for Science and the Enviroment (CSE)'s Making Water Everybody's Business by Anil Agarwal, Indira Khurana, Sunita Narain. This publication documents traditions, practices technologies and policies of water harvesting in the country. It also assesses state government efforts to deal with drought. The book has a clear message for the thirsty times ahead: Water must be made everybody's business.

The CSE has, of course, done a lot on water related issues. One can learn a lot from their website... Quench that thirst!