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

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Understanding Ambedkar from the Cauvery Valley

Indian democracy today lacks trustworthy leadership and an inclusive politics capable of producing an atmosphere conducive to the resolution of disputes, especially water disputes. Even so, there are some important lessons from B R Ambedkar for the Cauvery dispute.

Every distress year in the Cauvery basin demonstrates the trust deficit and democratic deficit in the federal polity of India, intertwined with the anxiety and turmoil of farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Independent India has faced and resolved several major interstate river water disputes. A solution to the age-old Cauvery dispute, however, has remained elusive, its resolution demanding the utmost democratic maturity from both, civil societies and governments of the two states.

The aggregate demand of the states far exceeds the overall flow in the Cauvery River. The aggregate demand of all the states amounts to 1,260 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet), whereas the overall availability of water in the Cauvery, at 50% dependability, is hardly 740 tmcft (Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal 2007). The crisis is intensified by the absence of livelihood alternatives other than agriculture, with yields directly dependent on the supply of adequate water from the river. The problem is compounded by declining state support for agriculture.

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