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Water management traditions in rural India: Valuing the unvalued
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering. (Vattenförvaltning, Water Management)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6166-4992
2004 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Achieving effective and efficient management of water as the key to human survival and development has emerged as an urgent global concern. The realization of the limited availability of water in space and time under conditions of ever-increasing pressures has caused designing of ‘modern’ water management initiatives that are globally manufactured but implementable in local communities, India being no exception. It is perhaps universally assumed that water management, as an integrated system based upon local knowledge & practices, is either ‘non-existent’ or ‘irrational’, ‘narrowly pragmatic’ and ‘in the process of disappearance’. If water is a basic resource necessary for sustaining all human activities, its provision in the desired quantity and quality and at the right time and place through a workable local water management system must be regarded as an omnipresent  phenomenon.

How is water management traditionally organized in rural Indian localities so that the community’s needs are met through generations? What implications do such systems based in local situated knowledge & practices hold for the global water management context? The paper seeks answers to these questions through an ethnographic study in rural India. It concludes that traditional water management system in rural Indian localities is pragmatic, rational and functional even in contemporary times. As found in central and central-eastern parts of the country, the system may be resolved into human and non-human components, the latter further lying within two different analytical domains, namely, the ‘ideational’ and the ‘operational’. Traditional knowledge informs each of these domains that is translated as practice in day-to-day life. The paper argues that the study of such systems is important not only for the sake of enhancing the understanding of traditional resource management  systems as situated knowledge systems and situated action locales, but also for appreciating their practical value in designing of more workable, socio-culturally viable, community-based solutions to the resource management problems encountered in recent times.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Community, globalization, indigenous water management system, institution, situated knowledge, situated action, socio-cultural matrix, water
National Category
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-62730OAI: diva2:481013
18th European Conference in Modern South Asian Studies, Lund University, Sweden, July 2004
Qc 20120202Available from: 2012-02-02 Created: 2012-01-20 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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