Countries and Rivers


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

20 Jan 2024 – Most countries of the world have some important well known rivers flowing through them. Their capital cities are generally located on or very near some rivers. For example Delhi the capital of India is situated on the river Yamuna. Similarly, Paris is situated on the river La Seine, London is built next to the Thames river. China’s main river is Yangtze, Russia’s is Volga.   Portugal has TagusRiver. Germany’s is Danube river, the small State Sikkim (on the north of India) has Teesta river, Sri Lanka which is a small island on the south of India and located in the Indian Ocean , has   Mahawelia  as an important river. These rivers provide water for agriculture, domestic use or for animals or even birds for drinking.

USA has two rivers   Missouriand Mississippi   passing through the country. Its northern neighbouring country Canada has four important rivers — Yukon, Columbia, Mackenzie, St. Lawrence, The Humber  river passing through the principal town of Toronto where  people from many countries including India,  also live and work, is also a celebrated river of Canada.

These rivers provide water  that is channelised through water pipes; they also provide water for agriculture and even act as a tourist attraction. For example, La Seine passing through Paris has several bridges known as       le pont where a lot of cultural activity goes on. There are painters , photographers, musicians who attract hundreds of tourist visitors by their wares. Some of these people charge small amounts of money for the photographs that are taken and request tourists to donate some money to listen to the music being played on  Le Pont 5 — bridge number 5.

In normal times, rivers flow peacefully and the waters are used in agriculture or for domestic use through pipes laid down for the purpose. But sometimes problems arise when the flow of water is disrupted between two adjacent parties or countries claiming exclusive rights for the water. There is also the problem of pollution of rivers due to dumping of empty bottles or some other  pollutants. Another difficulty arises in winter in countries such as Canada when water gets frozen in pipes. How to overcome the problem is tricky but somehow people have learnt to act to get around the problem.

When two countries claim exclusive rights for the use of rivers in river ponds or water flowing through pipes  then problems arise depending on the quantum of water needed by one country that does not leave enough water for a neighbouring country or state. Solving such problems require diplomatic skills or sometimes need appropriate technology to fulfil the needs of water in adjoining countries or regions.

These days problems of various types occur between two adjacent countries and skilled dialogue or interaction is required to solve the issues creating the problems. Religious factors also arise that need careful handling. If solved through dialogue and with  a   give and takeapproach, problems get solved. Otherwise judiciary comes into play. If that does not help, parties occasionally approach WHO or UN organisations. The idea is to keep on trying and you will succeed in some time — a year or decade or more.

There are specialists for solving every   difficulty. Even I have acquired some problem solving skills. So not to worry. Come with your problem and I promise to help you overcome your difficulties. See you soon.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Jan 2024.

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