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Rebuild ties through the climate lens

India has rightly stood up to China, as this paper reported. But the real test of standing up to the economic giant will be if we can negotiate the use of the Brahmaputra waters to India's advantage. Bharati Chaturvedi reports.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2011 23:04 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi

India has rightly stood up to China, as this paper reported. But the real test of standing up to the economic giant will be if we can negotiate the use of the Brahmaputra waters to India's advantage. Climate change makes this critical, particularly in the absence of any existing treaty. What India needs is unrestricted water flow in the Brahmaputra. What India should fear is massive water diversion and dam building by the Chinese, which will not only impact the water flow in the river, but devastate communities in Indian states. The discourse of climate change has impacted our water relations on another front too. Citing climate change, Pakistan has been pressing for a re-negotiation of the Indus Waters Treaty that it signed in 1960, over how the waters of the Indus Basin rivers-Sutlej, Chenab, Beas, Indus, Ravi and Jhelum would be shared by the two countries. India believes that climate change will impact it equally-- dry rivers will be as bad for India as for Pakistan-- and has refused to re-ink a new contract. All this tells us India has to re-build its strategic relationships in the region through the lens of climate change too.

History Matters in Green Assessment
Expectedly, the Dow Chemicals sponsorship of the London Olympics earlier this month created a furore. Apart from the outrage over a accepting funds from a company that is guilty of creating one of the worst industrial disasters ever till now, the debate should have forced us ask another question. Is it ethical for any company to sponsor anything for the public good without first undoing the public bad it has done in a publically acceptable way? I don't think so. As our planet becomes increasingly fragile, we have to learn to take history into account, so understand an organization's cumulative help or damage to the environment.