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Choke Point: India -- A Wilson Center-Circle of Blue Joint Initiative

On April 2, Circle of Blue and the Wilson Center present the findings of their Choke Point: India initiative, an exploration into the water-energy-food confrontations in the world’s second most populous country.

Date & Time

Apr. 2, 2014
9:00am – 11:00am ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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On April 2, Circle of Blue and the Wilson Center present the findings of their Choke Point: India initiative, an exploration into the water-energy-food confrontations in the world’s second most populous country.

India’s ambition to be a modern influential state is driven by decades of technical innovation and policy initiative to secure adequate supplies of energy, food, and water. A nation that has known hunger solved that challenge by fostering popular programs that provide free electricity for pumping free water to farmers. But in providing such valuable resources at no charge, India has generated an inefficient cycle of ecological and economic risk that wastes energy, impedes economic performance, and produces serious ecological and public health risks.

Huge grain surpluses are endemic and rot in warehouses. Though India’s electrical generating capacity has more than doubled over the last decade, most of it fueled by coal, India’s mining companies cannot keep pace with rising demand. New power plants run below their generating capacity due to fuel shortages. Brownouts and blackouts are endemic. Clean energy alternatives are not close to achieving mainstream status. And India’s hydroelectric development is seriously hindered by the difficulty and danger of building new power projects in the Himalayas. 

The presentation by Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue’s senior editor and chief correspondent, encompasses India’s globally distinct contest for resources in India’s food-growing Punjab region, coal mining regions in Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya, solar and wind development in Rajasthan, and hydro-electric construction in Uttarakhand.


  Michael Kugelman, the Wilson Center


Upmanu Lall, Columbia University

Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue

Diego Rodríguez, World Bank

Keith Schneider

Mr. Keith Schneider manages multimedia story development, reporting, editing, and production for Circle of Blue. He has been the lead researcher and writer for all of the Circle of Blue-Wilson Center Choke Point stories in China, India, Mongolia, Australia, and the United States. He is a nationally known journalist, online communications specialist, and environmental policy expert. For more than a decade, Keith was a national correspondent for The New York Times, where he continues to report as a special writer on energy, real estate, business, and technology. Before joining Circle of Blue, Keith was media and communications director at the US Climate Action Network and communications director at the Apollo Alliance. Keith developed one of the first independent online news desks as the founder and executive director of the Michigan Land Use Institute. A sought-after public speaker on the role of original reporting and online communications in the public interest, Keith is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Yale Environment 360, Grist Magazine, and other prominent news organizations.

 Upmanu Lall

Dr. Upmanu Lall is the Director of the Columbia Water Center and the Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Engineering at Columbia University. He has broad interests in hydrology, climate dynamics, water resource systems analysis, risk management and sustainability. He is motivated by challenging questions at the intersection of these fields, especially where they have relevance to societal outcomes or to the advancement of science towards innovative application. His current research covers 3 major initiatives include: (1) the Global Water Sustainability Initiative is focused on an assessment of global water scarcity and risk; (2) the Global Flood Initiative is motivated by the desire to predict and manage floods at a global scale recognizing their climate drivers, and supply chain impacts; and (3) America’s Water is driven by the goal of developing sustainable water management and infrastructure design paradigms for the 21st century recognizing the linkages between urban functioning, food, water, energy and climate. Dr. Lall has published in journals that focus on hydrology, water resources, climate, physics, applied mathematics and statistics, development, policy and management science. He has been engaged in high-level public and scientific discussion through the media, the World Economic Forum, and with governments, foundations, development banks, and corporations interested in sustainability. He has served on several national and international panels. He was one of the originators of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, and is currently the President-Elect of the Natural Hazards Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union.

Diego J. Rodriguez

Dr. Diego Rodriguez has been working for the last seven years as a Senior Economist at the Water Unit of the Department of Transport, Water and Information and Communication Technology of the Sustainable Development Vice-Presidency of the World Bank. He is currently the Task Team Leader of thirsty energy, a new World Bank initiative to assist countries to quantify the tradeoffs of energy and water planning and investments. He is also the Program Manager of the Water Partnership Program, a USD 50 million program to incorporate cutting edge knowledge and innovation in water and other related sectors. He is currently providing technical support to operational teams in several countries on the use of economic analysis in large water infrastructure investments under deep uncertainty. Prior to joining the World Bank he worked for 15 years at the Inter-American Development Bank and also worked at the Danish Hydraulic Institute. He has more 23 years of experience in sectorial, operational, policy and strategy development in water supply, sanitation, water resources management, and climate change. Diego Rodriguez has degrees in Applied Economics (MA) and economics of water (PhD).


Hosted By

China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

Global Risk and Resilience Program

The Global Risk and Resilience Program (GRRP) seeks to support the development of inclusive, resilient networks in local communities facing global change. By providing a platform for sharing lessons, mapping knowledge, and linking people and ideas, GRRP and its affiliated programs empower policymakers, practitioners, and community members to participate in the global dialogue on sustainability and resilience. Empowered communities are better able to develop flexible, diverse, and equitable networks of resilience that can improve their health, preserve their natural resources, and build peace between people in a changing world.  Read more

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