The Bill of Confusion


A look at the utility invoices sent out to consumers in many cities makes it clear why water is an under-valued resource. The unclear language and confusing acronyms do nothing to educate or inform. Some invoices do not even specify whether they use actual readings or estimates. These pieces of paper seem to be designed to negatively impact the consumers’ trust in the water quality and their willingness to pay. Continue reading

Indian TV talk show calls for action on water

Aamir Khan in Satyamev Jayate

A tanker brings water to a thirsty village and all hell breaks loose. Men, women, boys and girls swarm around the tanker trying to fill their buckets – there is much pushing and shoving even as scuffles break out. Sometimes, kids get trampled in the stampede, sometimes the tanker itself accidentally runs over people and injures them. Continue reading

The Age of Information Technology?

Data data everywhere but where is the information?

Do you know how much water your country has in its lakes, rivers and wells? Do you know the same about your state? Or maybe your city? Do you know where to get all this information from or whether it is updated and reliable? These were the questions put forward by Rajendra Singh, an expert in traditional rainwater harvesting at a conference held in the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur. There were no answers. Continue reading

Gallons of water for some coffee?

When a friend informed me last month that the well-known Starbucks Coffee chain was wasting millions of gallons of water a day, it came as a big shock. Surely, the coffee chain which claims to embrace green principles by requesting customers to bring their own tumblers instead of consuming paper cups could not commit such a gaffe, I thought. Besides, drinking water does not come cheap in countries such as Singapore and Australia, I reasoned. How naïve I was. Continue reading

A Raw Deal for Vegetarians


It is the same story at every conference I attend. At lunchtime, I move towards the food-laden tables hoping to find something that I can eat, but end up being thoroughly disappointed. The only items on offer for vegetarians are salads; all very good to look at, but not at all filling. On the other hand, meat-eaters have a variety of dishes to choose from. Why are vegetarians given a raw deal? Continue reading