How much water does it take to make a cup of tea? Recipe books would say half a cup
Now look at this, it takes 2,173 litres of water to produce a kg of husked rice, out of this, 1,488 litres is rainwater, 443 litres is groundwater and 242 litres of water are required to carry off the pollutants produced during the process.
In the case of goat meat, water requirement is 8,763 litres per kg. More than 10 liters of water for one kilocalorie vis a vis only half a litre is required to produce the same amount from cereals.
These numbers will carry lot of weightage when you consider exports. In 2019-20, India exported 4.5Million tonnes of basmati. To export this rice, the country used around 13 trillion litres of water. To put it another way, India virtually exported 10 trillion litres of water.
Rudimentary trade theory suggests that a country should be exporting things which it has in abundance and importing those which are scarce.
The question is do we have enough water to export?
As reported by Mint, Data for India shows that except for Brahmaputra and Mahanadi, all river basins with a population of more than 20 million experience water scarcity for a major part of the year. The two most populous basins—Ganga and Indus—suffer significant-to-severe levels of water scarcity for 7 and 11 months in a year, respectively. A caveat: a large part of the Indus river basin population would be located in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan.
The irony is that no country in the world exports more water than India, in the form of “virtual water” locked up in exported goods or rendered unusable because of production of those goods
The upshot is that India is exporting large amounts of virtual water despite being an extremely water-scarce country. Should it be doing this is the question.