The floods unleashed by the Kosi is a symbol of the persistent problem of water management between India and Nepal. Sadly, it also showcases a failure of the imagination from New Delhi in both grasping the magnitude of issues involved and tackling them innovatively. The snail-paced "hydrocrats" of India’s water resources ministries rule the roost, fighting needless little battles against their Nepalese counterparts while ignoring the war against the many shifting rivers the two countries share. What is needed is a large heart, an intelligent approach and sustained attention at the top levels, say experts. Something akin to what sustained the N-deal through the storms.
India can truly be the big brother and offer generous terms and benefits to Nepal when newly elected prime minister Prachanda visits New Delhi in mid-September. The Kosi will be on top of the agenda as will be the proposal to build a high dam in Nepal to rein in the river. It might be an auspicious time for the Indian hydrocracy to be magnanimous as befits a large country and counter the enduring narrative in Nepal that it got shortchanged on the earlier Kosi and Gandak barrages. Experts say India must abandon the narrow and extremely technical approach, which is designed to give bureaucratic cover and not to solving the problem.