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Daily Current Affairs 21.09.2022 (The lumpy skin disease, The complexity of caste, its analysis and its reading today, Positioning India in a chaotic world, The growing peril of Bengaluru’s missing drains)

Daily Current Affairs 21.09.2022 (The lumpy skin disease, The complexity of caste, its analysis and its reading today, Positioning India in a chaotic world, The growing peril of Bengaluru’s missing drains)

3-18

1. The lumpy skin disease

How will the spread of the disease affect the diary industry of India? Are there vaccinations for the vector-borne disease?

The Mumbai Police have ordered the prohibition of cattle transportation in the city to prevent the spread of the lumpy skin disease (LSD). The order came into force on September 14 and will stay in place till October 13. The disease has killed 127 cattle in Maharashtra, having spread to 25 districts. The contagious viral infection has spread in cattle in more than 10 States and Union Territories so far.

Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus which affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin. The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum. The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin.

The spread of the disease can lead to “severe” economic losses according to FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration. The income losses can also be due to poor growth, reduced draught power capacity and reproductive problems associated with abortions, infertility and lack of semen for artificial insemination. Movement and trade bans after infection also put an economic strain on the whole value chain.

Diksha Munjal

The story so far: The Mumbai Police have ordered the prohibition of cattle transportation in the city to prevent the spread of the lumpy skin disease (LSD). This means cattle cannot be moved out of the place they are being raised or transported to marketplaces. The order came into force on September 14 and will stay in place till October 13. The disease has killed 127 cattle in Maharashtra, having spread to 25 districts. The contagious viral infection has spread in cattle in more than 10 States and Union Territories so far. Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed last week that the Centre and States are working together to control the spread of the disease, which has emerged as a concern for the dairy sector.

What is the lumpy skin disease and how does it spread?

Lumpy skin disease is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which belongs to the genus capripoxvirus, a part of the poxviridae family (smallpox and monkeypox viruses are also a part of the same family). The LSDV shares antigenic similarities with the sheeppox virus (SPPV) and the goatpox virus (GTPV) or is similar in the immune response to those viruses. It is not a zoonotic virus, meaning the disease cannot spread to humans. It is a contagious vector-borne disease spread by vectors like mosquitoes, some biting flies, and ticks and usually affects host animals like cows and water buffaloes. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), infected animals shed the virus through oral and nasal secretions which may contaminate common feeding and water troughs. Thus, the disease can either spread through direct contact with the vectors or through contaminated fodder and water. Studies have also shown that it can spread through animal semen during artificial insemination.

LSD affects the lymph nodes of the infected animal, causing the nodes to enlarge and appear like lumps on the skin, which is where it derives its name from. The cutaneous nodules, 2–5 cm in diameter, appear on the infected cattle’s head, neck, limbs, udder, genitalia, and perineum. The nodules may later turn into ulcers and eventually develop scabs over the skin. The other symptoms include high fever, sharp drop in milk yield, discharge from the eyes and nose, salivation, loss of appetite, depression, damaged hides, emaciation (thinness or weakness) of animals, infertility and abortions. The incubation period or the time between infection and symptoms is about 28 days according to the FAO, and 4 to 14 days according to some other estimates.

The morbidity of the disease varies between two to 45% and mortality or rate of date is less than 10%, however, the reported mortality of the current outbreak in India is up to 15%, particularly in cases being reported in the western part (Rajasthan) of the country.

What is the geographical distribution and how did it spread to India?

The disease was first observed in Zambia in 1929, subsequently spreading to most African countries extensively, followed by West Asia, Southeastern Europe, and Central Asia, and more recently spreading to South Asia and China in 2019. As per the FAO, the LSD disease is currently endemic in several countries across Africa, parts of the West Asia (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic), and Turkey.

The spread in South Asia first affected Bangladesh in July 2019 and then reached India in August that year, with initial cases being detected in Odisha and West Bengal. The FAO points out: “The long porous borders between India, Nepal and Bangladesh allow for a significant amount of bilateral and informal animal trade, including cattle and buffaloes.” This, the UN body says, may have contributed to the spread of LSD in July-August 2019 between Bangladesh and India. While the 2019 outbreak later subsided, the recent spread in India began in June this year.

Is it safe to consume the milk of affected cattle?

Studies say that it has not been possible to ascertain the presence of viable and infectious LSDV virus in milk derived from the infected animal. FAO notes, however, that a large portion of the milk in Asia is processed after collection and is either pasteurised or boiled or dried in order to make milk powder. This process ensures that the virus is inactivated or destroyed.

Notably, Joint Director at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) told PTI that it is safe to consume milk from cattle infected by LSD, as it is a non-zoonotic disease. “It is safe to consume milk from the infected cattle. There is no problem in the quality of milk even if you have it after boiling or without boiling,” Mr. Mohanty said.

What are the economic implications?

The spread of the disease can lead to “substantial” and “severe” economic losses according to FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). The disease leads to reduced milk production as the animal becomes weak and also loses appetite due to mouth ulceration. The income losses can also be due to poor growth, reduced draught power capacity and reproductive problems associated with abortions, infertility and lack of semen for artificial insemination. Movement and trade bans after infection also put an economic strain on the whole value chain. A risk assessment study conducted by the FAO based on information available from 2019 to October 2020 revealed that the economic impact of LSD for South, East and Southeast Asian countries “was estimated to be up to $1.45 billion in direct losses of livestock and production”.

The current outbreak in India has emerged as a challenge for the dairy sector. India is the world’s largest milk producer at about 210 million tonnes annually. India also has the largest headcount of cattle and buffalo worldwide. In Rajasthan, which is witnessing the worst impact of LSD , it has led to reduced milk production, which lessened by about three to six lakh litres a day. Reports indicate that milk production has also gone down in Punjab owing to the spread of the disease. According to FAO, the disease threatens the livelihoods of smaller poultry farmers significantly. Notably, farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have incurred losses due to cattle deaths and are seeking compensation from their State governments.

How bad is the current spread in India and what is the government doing?

The current outbreak started in Gujarat and Rajashthan around July and had spread to Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar and Uttarakhand by early August. It then spread to Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In recent weeks, it was reported in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Jharkhand. The virus has infected over 16 lakh cattle in 197 districts as of September 11. Of the nearly 75,000 cattle that the disease has killed, more than 50,000 deaths, mostly cows, have been reported from Rajasthan.

The FAO has suggested a set of spread-control measures for LSD, which involves vaccination of susceptible populations with more than 80% coverage, movement control of bovine animals and quarantining, implementing biosecurity through vector control by sanitising sheds and spraying insecticides, strengthening active and passive surveillance; spreading awareness on risk mitigation among all stakeholders involved, and creating large protection and surveillance zones and vaccination zones.

The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying informed that the ‘Goat Pox Vaccine’ is “very effective” against LSD and is being used across affected States to contain the spread. As of the first week of September, 97 lakh doses of vaccination have been administered. The affected States have put movement bans in place and are isolating infected cattle and buffaloes, spraying insecticides to kill vectors like mosquitoes, with some affected States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh also setting up dedicated control rooms and helpline numbers to guide farmers whose cattle have been infected.

In a major breakthrough, two institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed an indigenous vaccine for LSD, which the Centre plans to commercialise and roll out in the next three to four months. The vaccine is based on LSD virus samples from cattle in Ranchi afflicted in the 2019 outbreak and experimental trials conducted on animals afflicted in the ongoing 2022 outbreak with the vaccine have revealed encouraging results, ICAR and the Ministry of Agriculture have stated.

2. The complexity of caste, its analysis and its reading today

There is an apparent opacity of caste now, which requires fine-grained and multi-dimensional study. This should not just be a quantitative study but a qualitative one as well, due to the changing dynamics between and among caste groupings.

With backward groups seeking reclassification as marginalised communities and launching agitations — such as the Kurmis seeking ST status in Jharkand, West Bengal and Odisha recently — the issue of reservation has taken a complicated turn in India. In this article dated April 2, 2020, sociologist Satish Deshapande explains how the process of internal differentiation within large caste groups has now penetrated much deeper convoluting our understanding of caste dynamics.

Twenty years ago, at the dawn of the new millennium and after the ‘Mandal decade’ of the 1990s, it looked as though the institution of caste had become legible in a new way ( See “Caste and social structure”, The Hindu, December 6-7, 2001). The break with the past seemed decisive; a code had been cracked, and caste could be ‘read’ like never before. Like any newly literate person, we took it for granted that the change was permanent.

But the new age of caste clarity lasted barely two decades. Today, in the mid-Modi era after the novel coronavirus pandemic, we are struggling to come to terms with the perception that caste has become opaque again — the code has changed. What has changed? And how has it affected our understanding of caste?

The ‘we’

To begin with, the perception of the ‘we’ has changed. It can no longer remain an unmarked universal ‘we’ that speaks for everyone, but must be acknowledged as upper caste. Specifically, this is the vantage point of the overwhelmingly upper caste liberal intelligentsia, a group that certainly has a caste location with its biases, but is more a spectator than a player in the game of caste. Unlike players (who must strategise to win the game while taking account of possible moves by opponents and allies), the spectator tries to map all possible moves by all players.

The other changes can be divided into two kinds — those that are internal to the caste structure itself and those that are located in the larger context. Leaving the contextual changes for later, the internal changes are taken up here, initially in relation to the largest group, the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

On the OBCs

The re-orientation of caste in the new millennium happened largely because of the arrival of the OBCs on the national stage. The OBCs were good to think with for several reasons.

First, the OBCs helped to place caste the right side up. From the Nehru era until the 1990s, the dominant ideology had presented caste as the exception and casteless-ness as the rule. The OBCs forced us to recognise that the upper castes were a minority rather than the ‘general’ or universal category. Second, because they were an intermediate group, the OBCs invited closer attention to the notion of backwardness and the interplay of graded privilege and disprivilege in different caste clusters. Third, because they were defined as a residual category — neither in the Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes, nor in the upper castes — the OBCs highlighted the pros and cons of categorisation and the challenge of internal disparities within large groupings. The OBCs were also important in themselves because of their demographic weight and distribution. They were present in most parts of the country and formed a large (usually largest) segment of every class group, from the poorest to the richest. That is why they had a special affinity for federalism and were instrumental in introducing coalition politics at the national level.

Is this way of reading caste still valid for caste analysis today? The short general answer is yes; but it is the particulars that matter for the more useful long answer.

Internal dynamics

The single most important change over the past two decades is that the process of internal differentiation within each large caste grouping has now penetrated much deeper. The impact of this process depends on the dimension of differentiation and on the contextual features which allow or prevent sub-groups from crystallising as distinct entities with an autonomous trajectory. The most common dimensions of differentiation are economic status, livelihood sources, and regional location. The single most important contextual factor that allows or prevents crystallisation as an independent entity appears to be region-specific electoral influence. For example, the Yadavs of Uttar Pradesh have not only coalesced as a coherent group, but have also facilitated the emergence of a derivative sub-group called the ‘non-Yadav OBCs’. Individual castes within this latter group, however, are yet to acquire a separate electoral identity.

Similar region-specific developments may be seen in cases such as the Mahars of Maharashtra or the Malas of Andhra Pradesh among the SC groups. But the emergent entity need not be defined as a distinct caste; and it may be an off-stage rather than on-stage actor in the drama of electoral politics. For example, economic differentiation within the upper castes has produced a division into the non-rich, rich and super-rich segments, but these are not sub-castes, and they are not (yet) a separate political constituency and remain within the larger upper caste fold. Nevertheless, such groups demand to be addressed politically and are of crucial ideological importance. The upshot is that caste analysis today has no choice but to be fine-grained and multi-dimensional. This is not just a quantitative change — the crystallisation of new political entities triggers qualitative shifts as well, changing the game being played without making it an entirely new game. Moreover, caste being fundamentally relational, it is the changing dynamics between and among caste groupings that matters. From the point of view of the social sciences, what this means is that macro-analyses of caste will become more and more difficult; they will end up either as unhelpful (and unsustainable) generalities, or they will simply become a collection of detailed micro-studies.

The sources

Thus, the apparent opacity of caste today seems to have two different sources. The first is the exponential increase in the complexity of the field, largely because of the differentiation of the initial groupings that were far too big to remain coherent. It is not that the code of caste has changed but that the caste-text to be read today is far more advanced. In other words, we have not become illiterate with respect to caste but we have to raise our reading skills to a much higher level.

However, it is the second source of opacity that is far more consequential, and this is located not within caste but in its relationship to other contextual factors. The most important of these are neoliberalism as a hegemonic worldview that re-positioned state and market; the dominance of Hindutva as a political modality; the new media regime that saturates social life; the ongoing restructuring of federalism; and finally, the change in the ecosystem of official statistics.

3. Editrorial-1: Positioning India in a chaotic world

India’s foreign policy mandarins are all set to go into overdrive in the wake of new challenges. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting (September 15-16) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, was a test case for governments on how to deal with current conflicts and attempt new guidelines for the future. Along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the leaders of Pakistan and other SCO nations. The special significance of this in-person SCO meeting lay in the fact that it was taking place when the world stood at the crossroads, in the wake of the Russia-Ukrainian conflict.

Mr. Xi’s initial remarks to Mr. Putin on the sidelines of the conference signalled the divided nature of the world today. Even as the leaders emphasised the strengthening of their ties in defiance of the West, Mr. Xi’s remarks that ‘China is willing to make efforts with Russia to assume the role of great powers, and play a guiding role to inject stability and positive energy into a world rocked by social turmoil’ were pregnant with many meanings. Mr. Putin’s response further underlined the extent of global disruption taking place today, and the wide chasm that separated the two warring blocs.

New version of non-alignment

India’s presence at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO was significant, reflecting a desire to be a part of both blocs, without antagonising either. The justification provided is that it represented a ‘new version’ of Non-alignment, viz., steering an independent course, despite open association with rival blocs. At the meeting, Mr. Modi made certain significant observations which mirror India’s new version of Non-alignment. For instance, after refusing to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict for months, Mr. Modi told Mr. Putin that “this isn’t the era of war”, stressing instead that “it was one of democracy, dialogue and diplomacy”. This has been interpreted as a mild rebuke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, in his formal opening remarks at the summit, Mr. Modi thanked both Russia and Ukraine for the evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine, highlighting India’s posture of equidistance between the two countries.

The philosophical underpinning for this seems to be that ‘Nonalignment of the past’ had not succeeded, and a way had to be found for “multiple engagements of the future”. Mr. Modi’s presence at this SCO summit is possibly the earliest test case of this unfolding strategy, given that it is only recently that the United States and other western allies had complimented India for its participation in the Quad (Australia, Japan, India and the U.S.). Whether India can make out a case for ‘mixing utopia with reality’ under the label of ‘multi alignment’ is yet to be seen, but it does provide grist to an idea being floated that this provides leeway for India to play a much bigger role in ‘managing conflict’.

It would be interesting to see whether this SCO summit will pave the way for India to exploit other situations created by political contradictions and use them to its advantage. A test case is India’s relations with Iran which have been on the backburner for some time, following a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on India if it continued to trade with Iran. Iran’s President appears to have floated a suggestion to hold a summit meeting with India’s Prime Minister, and the ball is apparently in India’s court. The cost to India on account of the freeze in relations with Iran has been high, including having to pay higher prices for crude and the inability to utilise the Chabahar Connectivity Project as an alternate route to Afghanistan.

As of now, all this seems at best, to be ‘work in progress’. Meantime, however, India’s foreign policy is increasingly appearing passive rather than active. Less important events such as abstaining from voting in the United Nations on the Ukraine issue are being touted as policy, ignoring the fact that this has contributed little to peace in Ukraine nor led to a lessening of tensions. This is also the case in our immediate neighbourhood, whether it be Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, where India’s foreign policy prescriptions look better on paper than in reality. A preoccupation with Pakistan and constant references to terrorism have kept India’s domestic population happy and satisfied, but this does not translate into an effective foreign policy.

Refashioning India’s foreign policy has become vital at a time when India is facing a confluence of old and new situations and threats, which often intersect. Such a situation may not be unique, but the nature of rivalries and present global undercurrents makes this extremely tricky. It may require a major overhaul of how we interpret regional and international tensions that have increased. For India, this poses a whole new paradigm of challenges, and it is important for India not to become the odd man out, as patterns change. New priorities need to be devised without squandering the past inheritance of managing to remain independent of conflicting blocs.

Ties with China

Jettisoning an erroneous belief that prevails among some sections of India’s foreign policy establishment, viz., that the erstwhile policy of Non-alignment had done little to enhance India’s image, should be the beginning, followed by deeper introspection before effecting fundamental changes in the policy of Non-alignment. While, China today presents an acute ‘near-term problem’ for India, it is important that India does not fall into the trap that the current adversarial relationship with China is ‘carved in stone’, and can or never will be altered. India’s foreign policy should be creative enough to leave an opening for an improvement in India-China relations over the longer term.

Again, the intensity of the current conflict between India and China should not lead India’s strategic establishment to overlook the fact that the primary conflict between India and China is ‘civilizational’, and not for territory. The two countries may never have a ‘lips and teeth relationship’, but given the history of nations there is enough scope for India to formulate a policy that would not completely close the doors on China for all time. Hence, India’s foreign policy mandarins must look for opportunities for the betterment of relations at an opportune time, which could well arise when China’s economy begins to stall and India’s economy (in-line with the expectations of economists worldwide) rises, moderating China’s current aggressive behaviour.

Refashioning relations with China over the longer term is important, but attention also needs to be given on how to manage relations in the near term in the context of the growing closeness in China-Russia relations. As their relations become closer, they have the potential of adversely impacting the current warmth in India-Russia relations. Our foreign policy experts need to consider how best to manage the relationship with both Russia and China in the extant circumstances. The watchword here again is that there is no permanence in the nature of relationships among nations, more so with the so-called Big Powers.

Nuclear dimension

An issue that has remained on the backburner for years may now need consideration in the context of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, viz., the nuclear dimension. Seldom mentioned, but present nevertheless like Banquo’s Ghost, are concerns about the possible use of nuclear weapons that have been raised in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. India, no doubt, has been a firm adherent of the ‘No First Use Doctrine’, and while nuclear relationships involving India, China and Pakistan have remained remarkably subdued over many years, India’s strategic and foreign policy establishment cannot afford to overlook the nuclear aspect, given that the country is wedged between two active, and hostile, nuclear powers — China and Pakistan.

Nuclear stability, as we have known for some years now, could well change in the near future. What cannot also be ignored in this context is the growing sophistication of Chinese nuclear forces, and to a lesser extent that of Pakistan, which has the effect of putting India at a disadvantage with both predictable and unpredictable consequences. India’s new foreign policy imperatives cannot again afford to ignore this aspect, even though at present India is the only one among the three that does not see nuclear weapons as intended for use in the event of a war. Nevertheless, it behoves India’s strategic and foreign policy establishment to consider how best to prevent ‘debilitating strategic instability’ — with regard to China in particular — given the pace at which China’s nuclear arsenal is growing.

Hence, navigating the coming decade promises to be extremely demanding, if not dangerous, with old fashioned geopolitical risks jostling alongside newer political challenges. It demands a total transformation of the way India’s foreign policy planners look at issues today. It may well necessitate giving up many of the existing policy constructs, providing for a wider outreach, and ensuring that our policy is not merely in step with current needs but is always a step ahead.

4. Editorial-2: The growing peril of Bengaluru’s missing drains

In the past 15 years, India has seen several episodes of extreme rainfall in 24 hours: Mumbai received over 900mm of rain in 2005, Chennai had over 300mm in 2015, and now Bengaluru saw over 130mm. As climate change intensifies, we face the gloomy prospect of failure by governments, society and citizens across the world to limit the warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times.

Higher rates of evaporation from oceans, seas and land are pumping larger amounts of water vapour into the atmosphere in shorter periods of time. A warmer atmosphere is able to hold more water vapour, and this has led to an increase in heavy downpours. Further, with the warming of the Arabian Sea, cyclonic storms that were earlier largely associated with the Bay of Bengal and the eastern coast are now impacting cities and settlements on the western coast. In the coming decades, such extreme rain events are likely to increase.

Bengaluru had several advantages compared to many other Indian cities: a high elevation, an undulating topography, interconnected lakes, green spaces that helped soak rain, and rajakaluves (storm-water drains) that helped convey excess runoff. Most of these natural as well as human made advantages have been squandered away, both legally and illegally, exacerbating the city’s risk and vulnerability to floods.

We have drastically altered the hydrology of Bengaluru at various spatial scales, from local storm-water drains to entire basins and valleys. At the city scale, linear infrastructure such as the Outer Ring Road have disrupted natural hydrologic connectivity across the entire watershed. At local scales, piles of garbage in smaller drains kickstart a cascade of flood hazards.

The case of Varthur

Taking the case of Varthur, one of the lakes which was in the news during the floods, the built-up area in this catchment has increased from 32% to 79% between 2001 and 2020. Correspondingly, green cover in the catchment that can help soak rainfall shows a major decline – from 34% in 2001 to 12% in 2020.

As a result, impervious surfaces which have limited to zero ability to allow infiltration of water have increased from 86 sq. km to 213 sq. km. What this means is, even 0.01m (10mm) of rain on such surfaces would mean a runoff potential of 2.1 million cubic metres of water, and 100 mm (as what Bengaluru experienced recently) would mean a run off of a whopping 21 million cubic metres of water. All of this water needs to be conveyed through a network of drains to natural depressions and buffers around lakes to be able to store it. Even if a fraction of this runoff is not conveyed, it can cause immense damage as seen in the recent deluge.

The story is the same for the other lake catchments or watersheds in the east of Bengaluru. Bellandur catchment has witnessed a growth of built-up from 42% to 84% in the same period.

In recent years, the physical shrinkage of the lake is not by itself the issue. For instance, the surface area of waterbodies in the Varthur watershed declined from around 4.7 sq. km to 3.5 sq. km, suggesting that increased awareness and protection may have worked to limit big encroachments in recent years. However, lakes and natural depressions may not always fill up during many monsoons. This can give people who are unaware of hydrology a false sense of complacency and a temptation to build in that region, which will be disastrous when water eventually reaches these places to find no storage capacity left.

It is not only the physical quantity of the runoff that poses a hazard. When polluted drains and lakes overflow, the flood can pose a health hazard especially to vulnerable and exposed marginal communities living in informal settlements.

Urbanisation is a global and inevitable process, and with cities as engines of the economy, built-up areas will continue to grow. But we need to draw upon these experiences and the growing perils of climate change and extreme rain events and change course.

The way ahead

For one, a combination of deft, hard and well-designed civil and hydrologic re-engineering is essential to undo the damage from earlier developments, and to invest in ‘blue’ and ‘green’ infrastructure with accountable governance and management to make this successful.

On a city scale, the potential to restore hydrologic connectivity using mitigation measures across larger, linear hydrologic barriers such as the Outer Ring Road should be explored.

Locally, citizens, local ward officials and staff will need to work together to minimise dumping of solid waste and garbage in storm-water drains. It is important that restoring storm-water drains and hydrologic connectivity at local scales must be done justly, taking into account the impact on vulnerable sections of society and informal settlements. The unfortunate and insensitive case of pumping of water from a privileged community leading to flooding of homes of marginalised communities as seen in the recent floods is a case in point.

All remaining green spaces of the city, grasslands, campuses, and lakes must be seen as much needed lungs and shock absorbers of Bengaluru.

Early-warning systems using sensors across waterbodies and drains, and a network of communication for hotspots of emerging flood risk in the wet-season should be put in place.

In folklore, The Pied Piper of Hamelin was not paid his due for his services by those in charge despite his warnings and he took his revenge on the town in a terrible way. Perhaps it is not too late for us to recognise and respect the valuable ecosystem services of our water systems and green spaces. We need to heed the signals from our choked and encroached drains and lakes, ill designed infrastructure and missing pipes. Our ability to conserve our last remaining grasslands, lakes and green spaces and invest in hydrologically and ecologically informed infrastructure and buildings can lead to a better and safer Bengaluru.

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