A Politics of Hope

September 7, 2001. All Delhi-based English dailies carried the same banner headline. In the state of Orissa in eastern India, villagers had starved to death.

There was much controversy about what actually had happened. The media said "death by starvation". Bureaucrats called it an "unfortunate incident". Orissa's chief minister called it an "accident".

Perhaps galvanised not so much by the deaths but rather by the bad press he received, the chief minister visited Kashipur village. Villagers surrounded him and made him drink a gruel made by boiling mango kernels. It was the gruel people there had been drinking, to survive.

Then the chief minister's motorcade reached a nearby village. People threw loads of the kernel at his car.

In this incident (that happened to catch the eye of the media, and so came to national attention), three things were clear:

  • In village Kashipur (where most of the deaths occurred), and others around it, people had no food to eat;

  • All the villages reeling under starvation were extremely poor.

  • Both famine and poverty were directly due to the drought-like conditions these villages had been experiencing year after year.
Now, the questions to be asked are :-

Are these villagers beyond hope?
Can these stricken villages change?

Such incidents occur throughout India. Year after year, whether or not the monsoon is officially declared "good", whether or not there is an "official" drought.

Are all those affected by the cycle drought-famine-poverty (or, ironically, good monsoon-famine-poverty) beyond hope?

Can all of India solve its water (and water-related) problems? Indeed, the world?

Think rain, people. Catch water where it falls.
From rain will come local food security. From rain will come biomass-wealth that will eradicate ecological poverty. From rain will come social harmony.

Rainwater harvesting is what nations can choose.
The CSE water campaign, when it looks into the future, sees only hope. It sees a world as an agglomeration of ecological - water harvesting - democracies.

We promise you, the future is bound to look up.
Center for Science & Environment CSE Store Equity Watch Gobar Times Down to Earth
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