News Wrap


Anew scientific society study by the Central Water Commission (CWC) concludes that India is not a water deficit country, but several regions face scarcity due to "severe neglect" of water resources and their storage and conservation. There has been a marginal increase in India's average annual water resource from 1869 billion cubic meters (BCM) to 1993 BCM in 2019. There is a worrying decline in water availability in three key river basins of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. The three big systems, located in Northern India, are fed by Himalayan glaciers besides rainfall. The decline may be linked to climate-change-induced conditions in the Himalaya areas. The average water potential of the Indus river basin, the part lying in India, fell almost 40% from 73 BCM in 1993 to 45 BCM. Increase in water availability is indicated at the river basins Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Maha-nanda, Pennar, Sabarmati Mahi and Subarnarekha. Advanced methodology in slightly bigger catchment areas accounts for the small increases in annual water resources. while the three major river basins show a decline, the other 17 saw an increase. A per capita availability of less than 1700 cubic meters is termed as a water stressed condition, which has been prevailing since 2011 (1651 cubic meters), 2019 (1486 cubic meters).

The National Institute for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) in a recent report has stated that life giving water is running out in India, 200,000 Indians die every year due to insufficient access to safe water. About 600 million people in India face high to extreme water stress. About 54% of India's ground water walls are shrinking. 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020. This will also lead to a food and economic crisis. Government must focus on public awareness campaigns for: (a) each individual to stop wasting water, (b) implement rainwater harvesting, (c) stop destroying, traditional rain water harvesting areas like reservoirs and village tanks, with encroached illegal constructions.

Instant Uproar In South India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after unveiling a draft education policy aimed to make the study of Hindi compulsory in schools in non-Hindis speaking states in India, quickly withdrew the proposal after it prompted instant uproar in south India. In Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (with 72 million inhabitants, the south's most populous state), the BJP won not a single parliamentary seat. The local Dravidians in the south, as opposed to the "Aryan" people of North India, are proud of their ancient history, and consider themselves to have been deprecated by India's largely northern nation- builders. In the North, Muslims suspected of killing cows get lynched, while in the south beef is widely eaten. The south has long been readier than the North to agitate against the strictures of caste. Nearly every town in Tamil Nadu boasts a statue of the great social reformer EV Ramasamy, or Periyar. He used to burnimages of the Hindu god Rama, at whose supposed birth place, the Bhartiya Janata Party wants to build a temple. A Tamil political identity was forged as far back as 1937, during the first agitations, led by Periyar against the compulsory teaching of Hindi. Renewed language protests in 1965, when students set fire to themselves, paved the way for the DMK and AIADMK, spin offs of Periyars movement to win state power.

Maximum Pressure Campaign
100 British marines from 42 commando, based near Plymouth, have formed a rapid reaction force, dubbed the Special Purpose Task Group 19. It is operating from Navy ships patrolling the Strait of Hormutz, from Britain's 40 million Pounds Naval base in Bahrain, which opened in 2019. The task group will protect Royal Navy Ships and British merchant vessels from small craft and mines. Marines would embark from Bahrain on the Royal Fleet auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay, which has a large amphibious dock to launch landing craft and speed boats, and a helicopter deck. As well as the Cardigan Bay, Britain also has HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, and four minesweepers in the Gulf. About 500 UK military personnel, including the crew of these ships, serve at the UK base in Bahrain.

Behind the confrontation with Iran, lies US withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and a renewal of sanctions that are hitting the Iranian economy, prompting calls in Tehran for retaliation. Iran has threatened to unleash a tide of refugees and drugs on Europe, by relaxing security on its Afghan border. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, Iran's GDP shrunk by 4.9% compared with the year before. Industrial production has fallen almost as sharply, as that of oil. Food prices have tripled and supplies of medicine are diminishing. Rivals in the Gulf have readily met the shortfall left by Iran's dwindling exports of oil. On 11 June 2019, Iran released a Lebanese citizen charged with espionage, who had lived in USA, for much of his life. An Iranian surface to air missile, brought down a US Navy RQ4A Global Hawk on 20 June 2019, which is an unmanned aircraft with a wing span larger than a Boeing 737 jet liner, and costing over $100 million. The US reconnaissance drone was a US act of trampling international aviation laws by aspy aircraft. The United States launched cyber-attacks against Iranian missile control systems in the last week of June 2018, after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone. The   attack crippled computers used to control rocket and missile launches. US president Donald Trump on 24 June 2019 signed an executive order, imposing "hard hitting" sanctions on Iran, and deny the Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, and a string of military commanders, and other officials access to financial instruments, within United States jurisdiction. The fresh sanctions are against eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

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Vol. 52, No. 11, Sep 15 - 21, 2019