Publisher: Random House India
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Oozing well before the onset of summer, Thirsty Nation gushes out as a well-researched warning that if our nation continues its prodigal romance with water, bitter consequences are bound to befall.
Eleven eminent people (an environment lawyer, a professor, a couple of CEOs..) from different, yet relevant, trades draw the curtains of this book by clarifying why water is an imperative concern in the present and thereby providing a reason for why one ought to read this book.
“…roughly 97 percent of mother earth’s water supply is salt water and therefore not fit for daily use. Of the remaining 3 percent, 2 percent, while considered fresh water, is locked in or frozen in snow and ice caps. That leaves around 1 percent for human use – or for a global population of 7 billion…”
Addressing the alarming increase in demand for water, the author trio details the causal factors involved with supportive tabulations. Projections illustrating the future of water provide a foundation for creating awareness about water scarcity among industries, agricultural enterprises and the general public.
Concepts like Virtual Water and water terrorism and some statistical revelations will astound the reader.
“It takes for example, 2,900 gallons of water to produce one pair of blue jeans; a simple cotton bed sheet requires 2,800 gallons of water. One hamburger requires 634 gallons of water, while just one cup of tea requires 9 gallons.”
After discussing water pollution in the chapter The Pool Is Getting Murkier, the book proceeds into economics of water. The 19-page chapter Pricing the Elixir provides a holistic perspective on Indian water-economics. The questions, to what extent should water be considered an economic good?, what would be the aftermath of providing water at subsidized prices?, and the pricing reforms in National Water Policy were discussed in sufficient detail. Water-economic models of four other nations- China, South Africa, Singapore and Australia- were studied, and conclusions that shed light on the blueprint of a successful water-economic model were logically drawn. The Singaporean model proves to be admirable and deserves a reading. The recent debate over Arvind Kejriwal’s water promises can be more critically analyzed after reading this book.
The discussions on many crucial factors like water infrastructure investments and governance, the need for greater awareness, water trading, regional cooperation, and many more, followed by a few case studies, provide piercing insights about the current condition of the blue gold in our nation. The authors also predict that pressure caused by water scarcity would bring countries together in the future and aid in strengthening international ties, especially the Indo-Chinese relationship.
All In All
Thirsty Nation is educating, sound in its statistics, and a balanced dialogue of prescription and description. This book is a product of pure non-fiction which appeals only to people who are genuinely interested in India’s water sector. However, for others, it wouldn’t be a totally unjust hyperbole to state that the authors demand that the readers put as much effort into reading this book as that they had writing it.
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