Four drought years in six, repeated bouts of untimely rains and hailstorms, thousands of crores in crop loan waivers, compensation for crop loss and drought relief measures — the story of central Maharashtra’s Marathwada region is by now painfully familiar, and repetitive. But the socio-economic impact of cyclical drought is not a natural phenomenon alone, and various elements of policy, in commission and omission, have exacerbated the conditions in this traditionally arid region, leading its once hardy people to desperate measures and heightened migration. Over decades, policy has failed to be nimble or responsive. Plans afoot now to ‘drought-proof” Marathwada will fall short in the absence of decentralised policy and praxis that takes people along. There is no end in sight for this region’s continuing distress.
About the Speaker:
Kavitha Iyer has been a journalist for more than 20 years, including 17 years with The Indian Express newspaper. For the most part of her career, she has focused her reportage on issues pertaining to rural communities and marginalised people. She is a grantee of the Earth Journalism Network and the Thakur Foundation. She is the author of Landscapes of Loss: The Story of An Indian Drought (Harper Collins India, 2021).