Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Governor's role not just a colonial hangover, it's based on India's realities

A selection of readers' opinions.

Governing governors

This article omits the fact that the governor’s role emanates from the unique federal structure envisaged by the Constitution of India (“Why does Tamil Nadu’s unelected governor have the power to select a CM? Blame the British Raj”). As noted constitutional scholar KC Wheare observed, India is a quasi-federal state where the balance of power tilts towards the Centre.

The historical underpinning of this landscape could be better gauged also from the fact that this was necessary to override any divisive tendencies on the lines of religion or language, rather than it being merely a colonial legacy.

In the BP Singhal Vs Union of India case, the had court observed that the governor has an independent existence in the Constitutional scheme. He has a dual role as the Constitutional head of the state bound by the advice of the council of ministers and as a link between the union and state government.

The court emphasised that the governor is neither an employee nor an agent of the central government. Furthermore, in Tamil Nadu, two factions staked claim to the government, creating ambiguity. – Akshat Bajpai

Policing borders

Even if you call these officials police, they are not, they are paramilitary forces, participating in combats at borders (“The IPS needs reforms, but it must go beyond the debate sparked by the BSF constable’s viral videos”). Paramilitary officers are even more frustrated than jawans as the top posts of the force are occupied by IPS officers who have not even spent a day on field. This reduces them to nothing but rags for the IPS lobby. It is not necessary for IPS officers to head these forces, they should be managed by their own cadre. – Rohit Surve

Weaving trouble

I don’t often come across a story of hope and revival when reading about the state of India’s handloom industry (“Photos: Weavers’ colonies in Delhi are dying at the hands of apathy and modernity”)! It isn’t easy to build a sustainable business around handloom, for a number of reasons, some of which I too have grappled with in my efforts. The economics of the industry are quite unfavourable and creative ideas are very few. Why blame “elites?” May be we all love a poignant story depicting scenes of lamentation. – Amitabh Thakur

Turf control

Bela Bhatia should realise that Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati was brutally murdered by Christians of Kandhamal, Odisha (“‘I will continue to work in Bastar’: Watch an undeterred Bela Bhatia speak after a mob attack on her”). His crime was that he was running an orphanage for tribal girls. Today, Christians have become majority in that region. The Odisha government is scared of the Bishop of Bubhaneshwar who controls all these Christian and Maoist activities. – Chitralekha Nagaraj

Crime in the city

Whenever a problem occurs, it is considered necessary is to pin the primary blame on something or someone which gives us as humans and you as journalists some closure. In the case of the Pune techie’s murder, the blame is pinned on the bad planning behind the cities humongous growth (“Behind Pune techie’s murder, a tale of an IT hub’s unplanned growth and uneasy coexistence of worlds”).

I agree the growth could have been better planned, but I do not agree with the premise that the crime was directly or indirectly influenced by any of these factors.

We have been going wrong on several levels. The perpetrators of such crimes usually have a sick mentality – that is the root cause that no amount of planned development could have changed. Second, the recent crime took place on the premises of one of India’s leading IT companies and it is solely the company’ fault for not spending more on having better security measures.

We all want a perfect world to live in, with proper planning, equal growth and so on, but that does not happen in real world. We have to plan our actions based on the ground realities. Let’s begin with pinning the blame on the right people. – Bhavin

One love

I agree that it is unfair that a women who loves more than one man is called a slut while a man with a similar history is called a stud – but that is only for the current generation (“How a hackneyed romantic ideal is used to impose monogamy and stigmatise polyamory”). I believe that for the older generations, a stud would be viewed with the same disdain as a so-called slut.

This article seems to have a feminist angle. While I am not refuting your claims that men tend to think they own a woman’s sexuality by the man, a Darwinian philosophy seems to be at work here. Men have been made naturally more dominating thus this allowance. Let women fight to be fitter and the day when the reverse starts to happen won’t be far.

Let women substitute men, not just in the mind but at the workplace, at the coal mines, at the borders and quarries, and the day when women will own men’s sexuality won’t be far.

I wonder why will women always want to posted closer to home, closer to their husbands if by what you claim, they can have a husband at their place of work anyways. More and more women are going to work, but till the time women and men will be perfectly substitutable at every walk of life, these differences will be there.

It’s not as if the gap between the genders is not being bridged, but the process is still not complete. So I request you to please not rush in with your feminist movement. Don’t just fight to have only the privileges that men get, fight to have the hardships they face too.
As far as polygamy goes, I guess it is a personal choice. I am not in favour of not, but you are. Well and good, there is room for both of us in this world. – Arka

Other side

I’m a victim of the misuse of section 498A as my wife and her parents harassing and blackmailing me for money (“Forced counselling, moralising: The difficulties of filing dowry harassment cases under Section 498A”). They are using this as a extortion tool to mint money. They have filed divorce case claiming Rs 1 crore as alimony and Rs 75,000 as maintenance a month after just 10 months of marriage. This is 21st century and men and women have equal rights. Section 498A should punish those who abuse their wives or demand dowry, but should not victimise the innocent. I request you not to publish on this issue wihout looking at both sides. – Jayaprakash

Untold stories

This is an excellent report on revenge porn (“‘Why did you let him shoot that?’: An Indian woman’s story of ‘revenge porn’”). This is a very issue for women, especially in these days of temporary live-in relationships. It is worrying how innocent women are trapped by such idiotic and opportunistic men. I hope to see this topic developed into a series, to embolden women harassed similarly to file cases. – Padmanabham Salla

Off the cuff

Dilip Ghosh’s remark on Noble Laureate Proffessor Amartya Sen illustrates the frustration and failure of the central government (“People like Amartya Sen can be ‘purchased or sold and can stoop to any level’: West Bengal BJP chief”). The saffron party lacks the support of intellectuals in the country. Several notable intellectuals, including Sen, have criticised the government for its policies, particularly demonetisation. Ghose’s statement is nothing but a frustrated voice of a party worker. – Mohmmad Suhail

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Water challenges in urban India

For urban India, the situation is critical. In 2015, about 377 million Indians lived in urban areas and by 2030, the urban population is expected to rise to 590 million. Already, according to the National Sample Survey, only 47% of urban households have individual water connections and about 40% to 50% of water is reportedly lost in distribution systems due to various reasons. Further, as per the 2011 census, only 32.7% of urban Indian households are connected to a piped sewerage system.

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Pressure on water sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. In a city like Mumbai for example, 3,750 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water, including water for commercial and industrial use, is available, whereas 4,500 MLD is needed. The primary sources of water for cities like Mumbai are lakes created by dams across rivers near the city. Distributing the available water means providing 386,971 connections to the city’s roughly 13 million residents. When distribution becomes challenging, the workaround is to tap ground water. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial and domestic use in most cities is leading to reduction in ground water level.

Distribution and water loss issues: Distribution challenges, such as water loss due to theft, pilferage, leaky pipes and faulty meter readings, result in unequal and unregulated distribution of water. In New Delhi, for example, water distribution loss was reported to be about 40% as per a study. In Mumbai, where most residents get only 2-5 hours of water supply per day, the non-revenue water loss is about 27% of the overall water supply. This strains the municipal body’s budget and impacts the improvement of distribution infrastructure. Factors such as difficult terrain and legal issues over buildings also affect water supply to many parts. According to a study, only 5% of piped water reaches slum areas in 42 Indian cities, including New Delhi. A 2011 study also found that 95% of households in slum areas in Mumbai’s Kaula Bunder district, in some seasons, use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 litres per capita per day.

Water pollution and contamination: In India, almost 400,000 children die every year of diarrhea, primarily due to contaminated water. According to a 2017 report, 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces-contaminated drinking water source, becoming susceptible to a range of diseases. Industrial waste is also a major cause for water contamination, particularly antibiotic ingredients released into rivers and soils by pharma companies. A Guardian report talks about pollution from drug companies, particularly those in India and China, resulting in the creation of drug-resistant superbugs. The report cites a study which indicates that by 2050, the total death toll worldwide due to infection by drug resistant bacteria could reach 10 million people.

A holistic approach to tackling water challenges

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Recycling and harvesting: Raw sewage water which is dumped into oceans damages the coastal eco-system. Instead, this could be used as a cheaper alternative to fresh water for industrial purposes. According to a 2011 World Bank report, 13% of total freshwater withdrawal in India is for industrial use. What’s more, the industrial demand for water is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% per year till 2025. Much of this demand can be met by recycling and treating sewage water. In Mumbai for example, 3000 MLD of sewage water is released, almost 80% of fresh water availability. This can be purified and utilised for industrial needs. An example of recycled sewage water being used for industrial purpose is the 30 MLD waste water treatment facility at Gandhinagar and Anjar in Gujarat set up by Welspun India Ltd.

Another example is the proposal by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to recycle and reclaim sewage water treated at its existing facilities to meet the secondary purposes of both industries and residential complexes. In fact, residential complexes can similarly recycle and re-use their waste water for secondary purposes such as gardening.

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Community initiatives to supplement regular water supply: Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralised treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution. Water towers or elevated reservoirs with onsite filters can also help optimise the space available for water distribution in congested cities. Water ATMs, which are automated water dispensing units that can be accessed with a smart card or an app, can ensure metered supply of safe water.

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Public awareness and use of technology: Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. For example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water. Similarly, government water apps, like that of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, can be used to spread tips on water saving, report leakage or send updates on water quality.

Collaborative approach: Finally, a collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. There are already examples of best practices here. For example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders. Involving citizens through social business models for decentralised water supply, treatment or storage installations like water ATMs, as also the appointment of water guardians who can report on various aspects of water supply and usage can help in efficient water management. Grass-root level organizations could be partnered with for programmes to spread awareness on water safety and conservation.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.