Water insecurity dominates Indians’ concerns about the environment

The potency of water as a political issue in the world’s major emerging economies was underlined again this week when it was reported that water levels had plunged in the Siang river in India’s north-east. Allegations were levelled that China—where water stress is also a major concern—had diverted much of the water on the Chinese side of the border, preventing it reaching farmers and residents who depend upon on it in the Indian state of Assam.
This controversy is not surprising, given the central importance that Indian citizens attach to water as an issue, according to Globescan’s global attitudes tracking. Our most recent data reveal that Indians consider fresh water shortages to be the most serious of a range of environmental problems, with nearly seven in ten (68%) rating them as “very serious”—up nearly ten percentage points since 2008. Furthermore, water pollution was cited this year as the second most serious environmental problem, with 59% rating it “very serious,” well ahead of problems like climate change (47%).
With the Indian economy registering its seventh consecutive quarter of slow growth, water insecurity, already an important concern, is likely to become increasingly central to the politics of this huge emerging economy.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.