Increased water scarcity impacting Indian families
Poor management, unclear laws, government corruption, and industrial and human waste have caused a water crisis in India that is exacerbated by changing climate and continued population growth. According to HSBC, among the world’s leading industrial and emerging economies, India is the most vulnerable to future water stress. The implications of this water crisis extend beyond agricultural and industrial challenges; the social dynamics of Indian villages are changing.
In the western states of Gujarati and Maharashtra, rainfall during the last two monsoons has been less than 50 percent of the average, compared with 93 percent in 2011. According to recent reports, this water crisis has led to permanent bachelorhood for many men, risen debt, an increase in suicide and clashes between people and civic authorities.
A recent Times of India story reported on this forced bachelorhood. Parents of many brides-to-be have broken their daughters’ engagements because they do not want their daughters to walk more than 5km (3.1 mi) to fetch drinking water. This is becoming a more common occurrence in the region as parents do not want to send their daughters to a village that is at the mercy of erratic and expensive water tankers, since common wells, the only source of drinking water in many villages, are drying up.
These severe shortages of water are also leaving many farmers unable to grow crops and provide food for their livestock. As a result of this lack of income, and increasingly a depletion of their backup resources that has driven people deeper into debt, India has seen an increase in farmers committing suicide in the last four years. While some have unwillingly moved out for the sake of their boys’ and their own future, others have organized themselves against the authorities to demand protection for their livelihood.