Why were colonial nations so enthusiastic about invading India? The answer is simple. Economy! Economy! And Economy! India being a wealthy country made it attractive to the English to come and lead our economy to disaster.
However, I feel that collective leadership, voluntary initiatives, and individual responsibility towards the country are more important. Poverty in India is not a mathematical error or a lack of natural and human resources. It is neither an acute shortage of machinery nor a political accident. India’s handicapped agriculture/economy and water shortage is arguably a manmade problem. India’s economy and sustainable development in the future depend on the integration of prudent water management and advanced technology. The demands of agriculture and water consumption will increase rapidly with the growing population. Without the citizens playing an active role and efficient management of resources there is not much the country can achieve.
Every person is directly entitled to the country’s economic growth. The government alone cannot battle poverty. I must argue that moral fibre is one thing that no law or politics can substitute. Eradication of corruption is not the only measure for battling poverty, though. Knowing your country better could also help. It is not in my best interest to confuse you. Allow me to make it clear. India as an agrarian nation is home to the wettest place on Earth (Mawsynram, Meghalaya) yet millions of farmers commit suicide every year due to acute water crisis due to the late arrival of monsoons, an unorganised water system that includes irrigation, management of water reservoirs, and lack of advanced technology.
Proper implementation of laws, systematic utilisation of the available resources, awareness, individual responsibility, and high-tech water resource management and rainwater harvesting can elevate India from an impaired ‘agro-economy’, and no Indian farmer will have to die due to a water crisis. Should rain water in Meghalaya be harvested through advanced technical assistance and distributed to neighbouring states, for instance, water shared with Kolkata via Assam, it could promote the north east region apart from making pure water available to a huge number of people outside.
According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN), the total area under cultivation is about 169.7 M ha. One hectare is equal to 10,000 square metres. With a rainfall of one mm, every square metre receives one litre of pure water. The north and western regions of India namely Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Saurashtra and Kachchh recorded around 600 mm of rainfall annually and western Rajasthan recorded an average of 313 mm rainfall. But the average annual rainfall in Mawsynram is 11,873 mm (467 inches). The second rainiest place is Cherrapunji, also in Meghalaya, with an average annual rainfall of 11,430 mm (450 inches) per year. Instead of investing billions on infinite redundancies, why not built a strong infrastructure of waterways and connect them state to state. We have the resources but we seem to be extremely poor in management.
According to the latest report of the Delhi office of the international NGO Water Aid, 13% of Delhi’s citizens are short of water for everyday use. In Madhya Pradesh, 40% of households did not even get 40 litres per head in a day.
“India has a large untapped reservoir. It can make a major contribution to the world food crisis,” said M. S. Swaminathan.
India’s economic growth can be swiftly augmented by upholding the concept of participatory budgeting (PB), which is, in fact, a great way to educate people how important these initiatives are for the entire country to collectively battle widespread poverty and agricultural problems. People can participate in the process of decision making in the allocation of municipal budgets/public spending. When PB is meaningfully implemented, it could also help prevent tax evasion. In a centralised democracy, it is the people who actually run the society and its welfare.
Every railway station premises and public transport premises in India is home to beggars. One possible measure to rehabilitate these beggars and to promote ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission to the fullest is to employ the multitude of beggars to maintain the hygienic surroundings both inside and outside the premises. This could be one way India can reduce poverty, crime, and trafficking besides maintaining cleanliness.
It’s been 68 years since Independence and India’s economy, agrarian by nature, still suffers. Heaven will not fall from the sky and transform India. Why should the Indian farmer have to commit suicide due to a water crisis when India is home to the world’s wettest place? Rainwater is the purest form of water. Wouldn’t we do well to invest in infrastructure (construction of systematic waterways/reservoirs/hydroelectric plants) to sustain growing demands.
In the recent union budget, Rs. 6,000 crores have been allocated for replenishing ground water; Rs. 20,000 crores have been allocated for the welfare of farmers under the ambit of NABARD; 28.5 lakh hectares are to be brought under irrigation under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sanchai Yojana; Rs. 30,000 crores for long-term rural credit fund and short term Regional Rural Bank Refinance Fund; Rs. 45000 crores have been allocated for short-term co-operative rural credit refinance fund; Rs. 4173 crores for the ‘Namami Gange‘ project.
To support soil and water conservation, a total amount of Rs. 707 crores had been allocated in the previous union budget. Rs. 245 crores and Rs. 100 crores have been allocated for an interlinked river system and flood control respectively.
The greater concern, however, is the lack of individual responsibility towards social welfare and the failure of collective leadership. Do not be startled if I say that it is through individual initiative/responsibility and voluntary social work that we can transform India into a vibrant nation. The responsibility to battle poverty must be shouldered by every Indian citizen. We are responsible for our country’s economy. Government is just a vehicle to assist and support us in executing our duties. If we still continue to blame the government for every crisis but fail to perform our duty towards the society/country, poverty will forever torment us.
For example, the northeastern states are not economically prosperous and a poor state like Manipur, whose economy almost entirely relies on agriculture, drought/scarcity of water is a colossal challenge before the natives. Being born and brought in Manipur, no person in my district has ever succumbed to hunger nor have I heard of such cases from neighbouring districts. This district receives no irrigation assistance from the state government and most farmers do not have access to water pumps. However, no person commits suicide due to lack of water or succumbs to hunger. The natives, by coming together, constructed small, but several, canals that substitute for water reservoirs for farmlands. It’s impossible to construct a route for a bulldozer in the woods. But through collective leadership, individual responsibility, social work, and an instinct for survival, these poor neglected farmers came together and successfully managed water and harvest their crops that sustain them throughout the year.
As of now, India is home to 12 crore farmers with no adequate assistance to successfully battle calamities and cover the losses. The current government under the verdant vision of PM Narendra Modi has implemented the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to replace two existing schemes, the NAIS (National Agricultural Insurance Scheme and MNAIS (Modified NAIS) in order to give respite to affected farmers.
Let’s make every Indian a concerned citizen, a medium of awareness, and a responsible individual. Very soon India will lead a strong economy at the global level. Instead of talking about ‘money spent’ on sewage treatment, desalinisation, awareness campaigns, why don’t we act responsibly and maintain our own household’s drainage efficiently and promote proper disposition of domestic waste. The money saved can be used to increase public spending and improve facilities and infrastructure.
No amount of schemes can elevate the poor farmers from the sorry state of affairs. Strengthening of mechanisms, expert management, and individual responsibility will elevate India’s economy.
“The greatest secret of an economy, after all, lies in the giving of man to the other who is in need.”