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The aim of this paper is to bring out the effect of economic reforms introduced in India on the direction of virtual water trade (through trade of agricultural products). The study also identifies the dual role that virtual water has in an economy. It is a source of export earnings (benefit side), but at the same time there is a loss of virtual water (cost side) through agricultural trade. The study is novel in the sense that it not only identifies the trade-off between benefits and costs of virtual water trade for India, but also tries to capture the impact of phases of globalisation on the trade-off. The cost side has serious implications on sustainability and territorial equity. In order to address the issues more coherently, we have to introduce a concept of virtual water miles. Then we argue with intuitive reasoning about the possible effects of virtual water trade on sustainability as well as on territorial equity.

By Maniklal Adhikary and Samrat Chowdhury

Abstract

Trade off, virtual water miles, phases of globalisation, transfers of sustainability

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