A: Power and Politics in the Indus Basin
Academics have sought to build a link between the control of water resources and political power (e.g. Wittfogel, 1957 and Allouche, 2011). Control and management of water resources in the Indus Basin have been major sources of political authority since colonization (Gilmartin, 1994), and these trends tend to continue in the post-colonial Indus Basin. Throughout history, the interaction between political power and control of water has been a crucial link for the stability and sustainability of political rule in the Indus society. The main themes of this session revolve around how control of water has influenced the political configuration of the society, and how political power influences the governance of water.
B: Conflict and Cooperation along the Indus Rivers: Pakistan and it Neighbours
The political boundaries of nation states do not correspond with the geographical boundaries of the Indus Basin. The Indus River System in Pakistan receives waters of tributaries originating in India and Afghanistan. Water interactions between India and Pakistan have been governed by the Indus Basin Water Treaty, however, the treaty is arguably outdated and in need of revision. It is unable to keep pace with ongoing water infrastructural developments – practice differs from the treaty’s rhetoric. For Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is no such treaty; and Afghanistan is likely to develop its water resources in the coming years, thus reducing flows to Pakistan. Bourgeoning populations, dwindling water availability, and poor water governance makes water a highly contested resource in all three countries. This affects international politics in the region. The main theme of this session is to explore the role of water politics in the regional politics of the three riparian states.
C: Conflict and Cooperation along the Indus Rivers: Federal Pakistan and Federal India
Water is a highly contested resource among the federating units of both Pakistan and India. While water scarcity, high population growth rate, and poor water governance disturb the demand and supply equation for traditional water allocation agreements, state/provincial and national-level politics also involves itself in water management decisions. There is much to be learned from studying the dialogue among and between different actors involved in water governance on both the Indian (e.g. Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan) and Pakistani (e.g. Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan) portions of the Indus Basin. The main theme of this session is to understand how the federating units of the riparian countries (e.g. Pakistan’s provinces and India’s states) have conducted sub-national dialogues; how far these have been successful; and what can be learned from one another – and perhaps from experiences elsewhere in the world.
D: Water, Culture, Environment, and Development
Water has played a significant role in delineating the cultural contours of the Indus Basin society. In fact, the very existence of the Indus Basin irrigation system has allowed life to flourish and prosper within what would otherwise remain a desert environment. Thus human intervention in the natural flows of the Indus Basin waters can be seen to have created problems, but at the same time, has solved problems too. The main themes of this session are to explore the critical links between water and the cultures of the Indus people, and to analyse how international and national irrigation intervention projects have impacted upon the environment and culture in the Indus Basin.
E: Water, Population, Poverty, Food, and Sanitation
Water scarcity is felt most severely by the economically and socially marginalised segments of society, who have little political influence and similarly meagre sources of sustenance. Water scarcity caused by poor governance, dwindling resources, and a growing population poses serious challenges to food provision and sanitation. The main theme of this session is to explore and analyse links between water availability, population growth, and the resultant demands of food, drinking water, and sanitation. We particularly welcome contributions from Afghanistan and India, as well as Pakistan, to share conceptualisations, projections, and possible solutions among one another.
F: Water Law – formal and informal (legal pluralism)
This session seeks to critically analyse the legal framework for the use and distribution of water shares of the Indus Basin in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. It will also highlight the absence of laws governing the pumping of groundwater for irrigated agriculture, the cause of severely declining groundwater tables in both India and Pakistan. Contributions are welcome for a range of water uses, be they canal irrigation, tubewell irrigation, or spate or underground (Karez) irrigation, and at a variety of scales, be they macro- or micro- analyses.
G: Global Politics and Water Security of the Indus Population
Water politics anywhere in the world can’t be studied in isolations. A complex interplay of the factors of international politics, such as war on terror, global trade and energy pricing, and technological development and innovation impacts the water security of the Indus people by resulting in lowering or soaring water costs. This session seeks to assess the linkages between global politics and water security of the Indus people.
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