The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again asserted that quotas for Dalits will not be scrapped.
2. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat complained about the Bharatiya Janata Party's attempts to topple his government, with the Assembly still in a state of crisis.
3. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has now said it may not need Apple's help in unlocking the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone after all.

The Big Story: Mad Max

In Latur, Maharashtra, authorities have had to invoke Section 144 prohibitory orders to prevent violence over water in the drought-hit zone. In Punjab, the government has gone back on a 40 year-old deal to give Haryana its share of water from the Ravi and Beas rivers by refusing to build a canal. And – possibly the most audacious of developments since it involved the national capital – Jat protesters demanding reservations last month damaged the Munak canal specifically because it provides water to Delhi.

World Water Day is as useful as any a time to take stock of how much water we actually have in this country and how little of it is likely to remain. Political and commercial considerations mean we are wasting much of it on water-guzzling crops and to help farmers with little thought as to how we will deal with the rapidly falling water table.

Even thought the last two were drought years, they happened to be accompanied by an unprecedented drop in oil prices which helped keep inflation low, and the country somewhat stable. A third year of insufficient rains with no equivalent oil price boon will only add to a rural economy that is already crying out in distress. In the cities, meanwhile, we continue to waste water at a massive scale and make things even worse by dumping huge amounts of our own waste into our water bodies.

The government has made some efforts toward cleaning up our rivers and civil society continues to make efforts at improving the way we use water. But, as the crises over water this year – before summer even sets in – have shown, things are only going to get worse.

The Big Scroll
In photos: A village is helping meet Chennai’s water needs, but at considerable cost to itself. Horrifying fact: Almost all India’s water is contaminated by sewage. How the Satluj Yamuna Canal issue has exposed the brazen hypocrisy of all parties. With water levels in India's reservoirs frightfully low, a good monsoon is the last hope.

Politicking & Policying
1. People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti is in Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi which will decide whether the PDP-BJP alliance returns to power in Jammu & Kashmir.
2. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M Karunanidhi insisted that he was still open to alliance talks with actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth, even though DMK treasurer MK Stalin had said the people do not want an alliance.
3. The Congress won both Rajya Sabha seats that opened up from Assam, with the state unit insisting this is a trailer for upcoming Assembly polls.
4. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked state Advocate General Shreehari Aney to resign after he called for Marathwada to be a separate state.
5. The Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s approach of using celebrity candidates for upcoming polls ran into trouble after actor KPAC Lalitha on Monday pulled out of the elections for "health reasons".

1. Delhi has a bigger interest than some in Kathmandu in turning Nepal into India’s bridge with China, writes C Raja Mohan in the Indian Express.
2. A leader in the Business Standard says the government cannot decide what counts as criticism of its actions, and what counts as criticism of "the nation."
3. Manas Chakravarty in Mint examines the performance of various states under the old and new Domestic Product series, and suggests that – if economics were all that mattered – Jayalalithaa will have a cakewalk in Tamil Nadu elections.
4. On World Water Day, a leader in Mint points out how political tactics and agricultural inefficiencies are heightening the chances of a water crisis.

Don't Miss
Shakti Lamba explains why you should care about Aadhaar and privacy, even if you have nothing to hide.

"Freedom needs to be constantly defended and protected every time a government changes and every time a new technology appears. This is the first reason why we should care about unfettered surveillance. Unfettered, it provides individuals, governments and businesses the opportunity and technology to monitor and interfere with how we spend or don’t spend our money, where we go, whom we visit and talk to, what information we seek, even when we wake and sleep."