Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) is a piece of management jargon that was coined in 1991 and probably traces its origins to the US army. It is used frequently to describe the business environment prevalent globally in the aftermath of the 2008 credit meltdown. Multinational firms have often used VUCA in their communication with shareholders to show how they are prepared for such situations. But in Latur, the examples have been far and few. Volatility refers to huge fluctuation in prices of goods and services in times of calamity such as drought. In this case there was fluctuation in the prices of pulses, especially tur dal , used by most in India as a staple source of protein. Turnover at the agriculture produce market committee at Latur – the market place which sets the price for tur dal across the country – declined by a third in three years to about ₹1,000 crore.
The monsoon in the Marathwada region has been uncertain ever since the turn of this century. In the last three years, monsoon numbers were close to half the average rainfall of 800 mm in Latur, ensuring losses to farmers on pulses besides effecting a change in the cropping pattern with gaining prominence. Uncertainty was so much that no one anticipated a three-in-one drought – hydrological, which dried up the water table, agricultural, which finished off crops and meteorological, which resulted in deficient rainfall in the last few years. Villagers told this writer that wild animals were spotted drinking sewage water in the night. To help families of farmers who were driven to suicide a seed company, Ajeet Seeds has set up a corpus.
The complexity of this drought was so high that very few solutions were available and led to many ambiguous situations such as the ones detailed below. To decide on a mix of supplying water to the public at large was a really complex problem – the dilemma included the quantity of water to be supplied, to rural vs urban folks, for drinking vs irrigation, by tankers and borewells or through temporary water supply schemes. Finally it was decided to dispense water for drinking as the first priority.
However, people in Marathwada, especially in Latur and Beed, have taken it upon themselves to ensure that water bodies are replenished better when the monsoon arrives this time around. There are numerous examples of the common man contributing or de-silting, deepening and widening water bodies to ensure rainwater is harvested better and the water table goes higher.