Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Cauvery Water Agitation

12 Sept 2016: NDTV's coverage of the Cauvery Agitation

I walk into the drawing room and see Anna concentrating on NDTV News. He is frowning as he concentrates to hear and read the news simultaneously.

Anna: Sangeeta, a plane crashed and is burning.

Me (confused): What plane Anna?

Anna: There is a massive plane burning.

Me (looking at news playing out on TV): No Anna. That is not a plane. That is buses burning.

Then I spend many minutes explaining (once again!) that people are agitating over the release of Cauvery water to Tamilnadu. Finally, I have to point out the 5-6 burning buses on the screen for him to understand that it is not a plane.

We have been talking about the Cauvery water agitation for some days. But he forgets for long hours of sleep are interspersed by our chats. Not to forget the days that pass by. Our conversations have covered the history of the agitation and even my maternal grandfather's detailed proposal to solve India's dependence on the monsoon for growing crops.

PR Krishnarao (1909-1985)
My maternal grandfather
My earliest memory of the importance of water for agriculture was in conversations with my maternal grandfather, PR Krishnarao, who retired (1965) as Director General of the India Meteorological Department. Pride of place in his home office used to be 3-4 hard bound A2-size books of his proposal and detailed plan to tap and distribute rain and river water across the country. The plan was to use a system of canals and dams to bring water to the remotest of places, to make land arable and fertile throughout the year. This was way back in the late 50s / early 60s. The proposal and detailed plan was rejected as the powers-that-were felt it would take too long to construct these canals. That was over 50 years ago. And the country is still struggling with uneven water distribution, still dependent on the monsoon for adequate water.

Me: Anna, hasn't the Cauvery dispute been going on for ages?

Anna: Yes, since 1892.

The Cauvery River
I check that fact later and he is right. The Agreement of 1892, allowed the Princely State of Mysore to "proceed with irrigation works" while giving the Principality of Madras "practical security against injury to interests."

Me: Anna, do you think there is a solution to the problem of sharing the Cauvery water?

Anna: There is a solution. People (i.e. politicians) don't want to solve it. If they do then there will be nothing they can use to distract people's focus at will.

Very insightful, dad!

Me (after we watch news clips of people vandalising buses and trucks): Anna, see how goons in "your Karnataka" are destroying public property?

Anna: Not "my Karnataka". Remember I am half Tamil and half Kannada.

Me (amused that he is sitting on the fence): Anna, so how will you decide which half you want to be on this situation.

Anna (giving me a sideways glance): I will choose to be on the side that wins!

Smart man! 

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