Bringing Back the Wisdom: Tradition in Urban Water Management

Chandra Bhushan Kumar*, Sonali Ghosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The discovery of water as a chemical compound and its direct linkage with a disease brought a paradigm shift in water management in the cities of the nineteenth century. Contemporary imperial ambitions and control not only facilitated the spread of this newfound knowledge in the occupied Asian cities but also led to the replacement of the age-old water management system that evolved over centuries. Bereft of local geography and social wisdom, this new system introduced layers of risks, which continue to define modern Asian cities. The plurality of water, integral to urban cohabitation, as understood in pre-modern times (before the control of nineteenth century State), gradually got erased by the new Master of Cities. Its devastating consequences have led to rethinking the way the water management system needs to be redesigned taking ‘traditional wisdom’ into its fold. In this context, this paper discusses the future of water management in Asian cities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndigenous and Local Water Knowledge, Values and Practices
EditorsM. Basu, R. DasGupta
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789811994067
ISBN (Print)9789811994050
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2023


  • Asia
  • Delhi
  • Global South
  • Traditional Knowledge
  • Waterscape


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