Water: Diluting the Bonds

Water is a Need…

Water is a basic and chief resource. Therefore, even after possessing the most simplistic qualities (pure water has no particular taste and color of its own), its importance is tremendous.

A country might produce any number of commercial and high value crops, but its requirement for food crops like wheat, rice or other grains cannot die out.

Water can be flexibly put to many uses. From converting water into flavored water that is marketed as beverage, it can be used for activities as complex as deriving hydro electricity from falling water.

The modern world’s high-end technologies can also not overcome the utility of this natural resource.Huge reserves of coal or timber cannot beat water in value and utility.

It is beneath the sea bed where oil reserves are found. Ocean water, if navigable facilitates the cheapest mode of transport. Besides, it is also a rich source of fish, crustaceans, sea weed, and other sea food.

Well, a country can derive abundant salt from sea water (though it is this curse that makes sea water unfit for drinking and many other uses).

But This is Greed…

It is quite understandable that why the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan, respectively are fighting over uninhabited islands that actually are just petty rocky outcroppings, surrounded by the shark-infested waters of the East China Sea.

Besides the emotional significance of the sea (as they claim), behind the scenes story strongly says that the sea beds around the islands called as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in East China Sea might hold rich oil and natural gas deposits.

Only a day ago, China conducted “routine patrols and law enforcement in the territorial waters around the Diaoyu Islands”; followed by a momentary encounter between ships from the Japanese Coast Guard and China Marine.

Neither side is likely to back  out from the latest round of tensions over the islands.

Beijing deems territorial issues as “core issues” on which it will not waver. True, who would know it better than Indians?

Because China is not just water-thirsty, it is land hungry too.

The Kashmir issue has been troubling us for years.

On the other hand, Japan has the support from rich lobbyists like the Unites States of America to beat China off.

According to a report ,the growing tensions have even held the tiny but still worrisome prospect of dragging the United States of America into a military confrontation with China.

The matter is all about power demonstration that’s why the third potential stakeholder, Taiwan being a soft nation is almost out of the scene.

Water for Life

Water disputes occur not just internationally; even states within a nation can fight over sharing water.

After long debates and discussions, the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs water to Tamil Nadu from September  20th to October 15th as per the instruction of Cauvery River Authority (CRA) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Tamil Nadu government immediately filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Karnataka, when long before the term completion it stopped releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

This might not be a severe case of rivalry like the dispute of East China Sea or South China Sea because the states have limited choices.

It has to be a battle for sustenance and livelihood for both the sides.

Karnataka received drought this year, it needs water. And so does Tamil Nadu.

This dispute still has had a very caustic effect on relationships between the two neighbouring states.

Fighting the Lost Battle?

Besides that, water sharing can foster love between two countries too.

The central Government tried hard to convince Mamata to let the proposed Teesta river treaty pass, so that it could pacify Sheikh Haseena, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

But Mamata Banerjee’s stubborn stand that sharing Teesta waters by a 50-50 ratio with Bangladesh would affect the livelihood of the people in West Bengal didn’t let it happen.

And now, the final breakup between the West Bengal Chief Minister and the centre means no Teesta agreement in near future, at least not until Mamata’s term as Chief Minister ends.

Mamata Banerjee opposed the proposed treaty on the grounds that centre is ignoring state’s needs.


It is miserable that no one reckoned what effect such water disputes have on the environment. Damming of river for water sharing affects the flow of water and various patrol ships in oceans frequently generate oily bilge water from engines that eventually leaks into the oceans.

Water affecting Diplomatic and Trade Relations

Recently, USS George Washington entered South China Sea as a display of naval strength to China, and in the support of smaller Asian nations like Republic of China (Taiwan), Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia that also have the claims on the sea.

During a public demonstration, the people of China had unfurled banners reading “Kill Japanese Robbers” and “Boycott Japanese Goods” after  the Japanese Government offered to purchase the East China Sea Islands.

On the other hand, agitated farmers had demonstrated at several places in Mandya and Mysore districts in Karnataka raising slogans against the Central and Tamil Nadu governments over Cauvery River Dispute.

Looking at the intensity of the situations, the theory predicting that the third World war might be over water stands plausible.

Water is rapidly diluting the bonds of love and friendship.

The disputes in small pockets of the world would culminate into major rivalries, and the war might just break out.

Sakshi Tirthani

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