Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


Several events in South Asia this month warranted an editorial, be it the uncovering of the Panama Papers scam that implicated a variety of South Asian politicians, the continued violence against secularists in Bangladesh, in particular the shocking murder in broad daylight of a Professor at Rajshahi University, or the fact that the Modi government was able to channel pretty large sums of money (at first glance, perhaps thousands of times the money they are persecuting Teesta Setalvad for “misappropriating”) to fake companies in the “KG scam.” The last mentioned event should also raise questions on how much of the Gujarat economic miracle was just a public relations fantasy that Modi used to ride to victory in the parliamentary elections two years ago.


However, the story of drought in South Asia is the most compelling this month in terms of the vast number of people affected. Over a quarter of India’s population is affected by the ongoing drought conditions prevailing in large parts of the country. In Pakistan, widespread starvation on account of the drought has been reported in Sindh province, especially in Tharparkar district. Similar conditions plague parts of Bangladesh as well.


The drought has affected over 300 million people, but for the elite, it appears to be business as usual. Some matches in the IPL cricket tournament are being played in Maharashtra’s driest areas with verdant fields being watered round the clock to achieve soft carpets of green, while the “thirst economy” has created windfalls for merchants who sell water at usurious rates.


The drought is unfortunately man-made, the unregulated shift from growing semi-arid crops such as millet and sorghum to water-guzzling cash crops such as sugarcane was promoted by neoliberal government policies that need to be rethought in the wake of the current events. It is time that a comprehensive solution to the perennial water shortage was thought through, before people continue to die in water lines while the elites privatize water through tanker trade. Thirst is never satisfied by mirages, and the illusion of India’s economic growth is nothing short of a mirage, or worse, a conjurer’s trick played by the current government, who talks of achche din while doing elaborate pujas and yagnas for the elusive monsoon.

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