The Big Story: Under the Bridge
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be briefed on Monday by the departments responsible for implementing the Indus Waters Treaty, an agreement with Pakistan over the use of waters from the Indus and its five tributaries. The government has attempted to signal that Modi will only be made aware of the various aspects of the treaty, and yet it is impossible not to view this leak – there has been no official statement, simply source-based reports – against the backdrop of India considering various option that it might use to pinch Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attacks.
Over the past week, commentators like Brahma Chellaney and former minister Yashwant Sinha have called on India to wield provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty as a means of exacting revenge on Pakistan, which New Delhi blames for sponsoring the militants who killed 18 Indian soldiers at an Army base in Uri, Kashmir, on September 18.
The treaty, which effectively gives Pakistan rights to water from three rivers and India to the other three, has been remarkably resilient in the face of subcontinental tensions: It has survived two full-scale wars between India and Pakistan, one unanimous Jammu and Kashmir resolution calling for renegotiation and decades of nervous standoffs between the nuclear neighbours.
Abrogating it would have huge consequences. Denying Pakistan its water could seriously dent India's international image and attract sympathy for a state that New Delhi wants to declare a sponsor of terrorism, it would endanger India's other rivers – which are dependent on Pakistan's ally China not doing something similar – and there's also the question of the morality of water warfare, especially when it can be used against India. The country also lacks the technical capabilities to prevent Pakistan from getting its water.
But there are aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty that India hasn't even implemented, such as allowing it to store without using up to 3.6 million acre feet of water on the Western rivers (which India has so far not done). Pakistan itself has asked for a relook at the treaty, as has the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. It seems clear that even considering reneging on the treat would be a mistake that could hurt India as much as it does Pakistan. But New Delhi might also find it worthwhile to examine what leeway it has within the treaty, especially because status quo doesn't fully reflect the rights given to India, despite an agreement that experts believe was unfairly tilted towards Islamabad.
The Big Scroll
- Will the Indus Waters Treaty ride out the latest India-Pakistan face-off? Athar Parvaiz writes.
- And quiet flows the Indus: The land was divided but the waters are still shared – like history, writes Haroon Khalid, telling stories of shared heritage between India and Pakistan.
- For all of India's bluster, Pakistan still has every incentive to send militants across the border, says Ahsan Butt.
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- A HuffPost-CVoter snap poll in Uttar Pradesh shows that, even if the state is unhappy with the Samajwadi Party, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav remains popular – much more so than his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
- ISRO has yet another satellite launch on Monday, but this one is different because it isn't just transporting foreign devices – it's also putting a few student projects into space. (paywall)
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's office called a press meet with no reporters allowed at a hospital in Chennai to say that, despite all the rumours, Amma is not going abroad for treatment and will be discharged soon.
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- Sushant Singh in the Indian Express argues that strategic restraint is simply a way of dressing up the fact that India doesn't have any military options against Pakistan.
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- "Every time we link Pakistan to Kashmir by blaming Islamabad for the protests in the Valley, we are only helping Pakistan’s Kashmir cause," writes Happymon Jacob in The Hindu.
Priyanka Vora reports on the muddled theories that officials are giving to explain the high number of children who have died of malnutrition in Maharashtra's Palghar district.
When asked for an estimate of child deaths due to malnutrition, Vinita Vaid-Singal, Maharashtra's commissioner of the Integrated Child Development Scheme that aims to tackle malnutrition, said that she would have to consult her records. But she also said that there were no records of how many of the 208 dead children had been malnourished. “This is a new district but we are already ready with a plan to tackle the issue,” she said.
Vaid-Singal said that the deaths recorded under the schemes are not all associated with malnutrition. “Some children have congenital anomaly and some die of snake bite, malnutrition has nothing to do with these deaths,” she said. However, she did concede that severely malnourished children are at nine times the risk of contracting infections.