strategy and business

Business could steer India and the world out of troubled waters

Having grown up in India, I remember how monsoons brought relief from scorching heat and produced lush greenery and lots of bugs. But as a visitor to India last August, I saw water scarcity woven into the fabric of day-to-day life and puzzled over those capricious rains. How can the same sort of monsoons be linked to both floods and droughts, not only across the country but even within a state? In Maharashtra, India’s largest state economy, drought and flooding coexist within 150 miles. This phenomenon is adding to rural India’s agricultural crisis. Meanwhile, in megacities such as Delhi, people queue up to collect just one bucket of water, business school graduates quit their jobs to market rainwater harvesting systems, and the government cracks down on the water mafia.

India isn’t alone. Middle East countries such as Qatar and Israel are highly water-stressed, as are other countries, such as Chile and Botswana. Cities around the world, including São Paulo, Cape Town, Beijing, London, and Miami, are also struggling with water shortages. India does, however, stand out for its peculiarity; it gets upward of 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) of average annual rainfall, more than double the amount of almost any other water-stressed country. The magnitude of India’s crisis is

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