Rinan Shah



Ph.D. Proposal Abstract

Certain regions of the world, despite receiving substantial amounts of rainfall face a water paradox – a too much, too little syndrome. The communities residing in such regions face water scarcity during the dry as well as the rainy seasons. Mountainous regions, the water towers of the world, face this water paradox too. The unique biophysical and social characteristics, and the political economy and institutional structures of these regions contribute to the creation of this paradox. Such regions have a difficult terrain dotted with springs and streams. They are largely dependent on tourism creating a strong seasonal demand for water which coincides with the dry seasons. The spatial distribution of urbanization also creates variation on the provisioning of services. The changing political regimes and economic investments thus driven into the water infrastructure also affect the issue of water scarcity.

In order to understand the various drivers that lead to the manifestation of water scarcity in a volumetrically “water-rich” region, this work will adapt the human development approach to water which uses the four orders of scarcity physical, economic, adaptive capacity, and socially constructed. The use of such an approach is necessary because limited natural resources cannot be equated with scarcity as it is a property which emerges out of human interaction or social provisioning. The scarcity of natural resources is determined not only by its volumetric quantity but also by the political economy and institutional forces of a region. These forces influence the undertakings of the formal and informal institutions to alleviate the scarcity faced by communities. The non-neutral nature of scarcity across the socio-economic conditions and spatial location of the communities in the region highlight the inability or ability of the communities to access the resources.

The Eastern Himalayan Region (EHR) of India is one of the regions in the country which faces a water paradox. The objective is to study the contribution of biophysical change, political economic and institutional factors to water scarcity and its particular manifestations in Darjeeling town in the EHR. Capabilities and entitlements of communities and their relationship to water security and practicing the right to water will provide an understanding of experiences of scarcity across communities.

Ph.D. Supervisor Shrinivas Badiger
Doctoral Advisory Committee Veena Srinivasan, Siddhartha Krishnan and Sarala Khaling


  • M.Sc in Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  • B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Work Experience

  • Software Engineer - Associate (13-June-2011 to 15-Feb-2013) & Senior Associate (15-Feb-2013 to 15-May-2013) at Genpact Headstrong Capital Markets, NOIDA

Conferences & Workshops Attended

  • Made an Oral Presentation on “Deconstructing Domestic Water Scarcity in the Mountain Towns of the Eastern Himalaya” at 9th International Perspective on Water Resources and the Environment in Wuhan, China (4th to 6th January 2017)
  • Selected by Scientific Committee, the Science and Technology Service of the French Embassy in India to participate at the International Conference on “Water, Megacities and Global Change” in Paris, France (1st to 4th December 2015)
  • Attended “The Bailey Bridge Initiative (BBI) – Summer School April 2015 – Science and Technologies for Building Agency” under the Socio-Ecological Stewardship Programme (SESP) under the Director’s Office, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. (15th to 25th April 2015)
  • Attended the HI-AWARE Academy for Doctoral Students under the HI-AWARE initiative of Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) Regional Programme of ICIMOD (2016)


  • Awarded National Mission on Himalayan Studies ( NMHS ) Junior Research Fellowship (2016 – 2018)

Cleared University Grants Commission (UGC) National Eligibility Test (NET) in Environmental Science for Lectureship in 2016