India is drying up. We are hurtling towards a future without water, created by political expediency, bureaucratic ineptitude, popular corruption and corporate avarice. In a few years, we will have exhausted our long and short term reserves of water. Tens of millions of tubewells sunk by farmers promoted by blind politicians will have dried up sub-surface water reserves in most of the country.
A deadly mix of politicians, bureaucrats and business would have raped the country of its minerals, leaving no space for rivers to flow or forests to grow. In turn this would mean less water all around – in the ground, rainfall, on the surface and eventually in the Himalayan glaciers that support most of India’s exploding population. The poor for whom our World Bank-pensioned PM and PC Chairman weep would simply be lopped from the bottom of the pyramid.
The rivers dependent on Himalayan glaciers are already threatened by dams, deforestation and over-population along their courses. We take out water and return waste – farm runoff, municipal sewage and industrial toxins. We hope the water will carry that, and our sins, to the ocean but that is not happening any more. There is no water. The waste accumulates, enters the ground and our food chain, water chain. We lap it up in increasingly greater concentrations.
This is our future – dry. Every time elections come around, there is a round of political bullshit; give farmers tubewells, waive their loans, provide more free power. Sure, some of this is needed as farmers need help to eke out a living. But they don’t need more tubewells, free power or means to extract water from the ground. What they need, and what nobody provides, is how to use that water better. To make a good life, to save for the future.
Is our consumerist culture to blame? When everything is reduce to the unidimension of money, can you blame farmers for maximising the present, at the cost of everything else? Can you blame politicians, businessmen or bureaucrats to live as if there is no tomorrow? If our World Bank pensioner-rulers are busy pushing a single agenda, who do you blame. Have a pasta and a pudding, and damn the rest. But you need water to grow pasta.
So what. There has to be some credible thought for the future. In the business as usual scenario, it seems really bleak. If we maximise the present by wising up to water wastage and pollution, we can still save the future from going dry. Dry statistics – India will be water stressed by 2020 – are not scary. Drying water tables are. Dry or dirty rivers are. Disappeared glaciers are. Chopped down and mined forests are. The Indian public needs to be fed a staple of this information so it wakes up to the fact there is more to life than just money. There are things money cannot buy – water, forests, clean air, rain, life itself. They need to checkmate politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen out to finish the country as soon as possible. An apathetic public is its own worst enemy and indeed, the enemy of the state. We need to wake up now to prevent the great drying or all money in the world will be useless.