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Providing secure supplies of potable water is now of central concern to all societies and made the more so as we face climate change and try to determine what our adaptive response should be. The lessons Ray has drawn from experience in developing freshwater policy in India may be applied in almost all countries. The problems of cross-boundary aspects of regional water demands, the political complexity of reaching accommodation with competing jurisdictions, the stresses created when supplies cannot keep up with demand due to population increase and increasing per capita consumption, the importance of environmental considerations and the constraints on financial resources are all issues faced in varying degree by nations large and small.
The path dependencies created by the political boundaries and institutional arrangements as well as the prevailing technology and the cultural values and behavioral norms all affect the ways in which societies address the current water crisis. Ray's study is a model we should use in trying to understand and then resolve the problems arising from the provision of freshwater supplies, whether the problems are within and between the regions in one country or raise trans-boundary issues. Ray's work is grounded in a detailed analysis of the situation in India, but its ambition is justifiably painted on a larger canvas.
Ray has made a singular contribution to the debate and his book deserves to be closely studied by all those who have a concern for the environment and for the peaceful management of tensions arising from the exploitation of the limited supplies of freshwater.
The non-availability of freshwater will have disastrous socio-economic and political consequences, as well as create unprecedented environmental catastrophes. Further, the rise of China, which controls about 90 percent of Asia's freshwater supply and is a water-scarce country herself, will demand more water from two of the Himalayan rivers that flow through the sub-continent. As no two Asian superpowers have ever existed side by side, the rise of India as an economic superpower will complicate the situation further.
Within this context, the book deals with a range of issues which India and other sub-continental countries must bring into their policy considerations to ensure sustainable socio-economic development and political stability in a rapidly changing global environment. I commend the author for professionally addressing these issues and recommend the book to anyone concerned with water and environmental issues.