Saturday, Oct 01, 2022
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Dreams And Droughts

Legislators sans executive power and administration sans legislative powers: balancing the two gives us the administration we have today.

My dream for India is to see the waters of the Brahmaputra kiss the waters of the Cauvery.” In all my years in journalism I was never able to use this awesome quote. Covering the ministry of defence made it very difficult to insert this somewhere. Even though it came from the most difficult man to meet in the ministry, Bharat Ratna Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. I had gone to his office after work, and he was giving me copies of all the reports he had worked on for India’s technology vision of 2020. I then asked him what his personal vision on a national scale was. Exposed to conversations on rocketry, thermal imaging and such other technologies, I had to ask him to explain this quotable quote.

It was very simple. He was envisioning a river map of India, much like a road map, in which various watercourses are linked to form a water grid. In that lies India’s solution to the drought in Barmer, and simultaneously floods in Burdwan. This canal system—at a national scale—will also ensure that India uses most of its freshwater, rather than letting it waste into the seas. At the same time, it will raise the water table in areas where there has been an exponential increase in the development of tubewell irrigation along with an insufficient recharging of subsoil reserves. In his mind, Dr Kalam was also envisioning a potential for inland water transportation. News from across the border speaks of severe strain between Sindh and Punjab on sharing Indus waters. Figures for damage to the wheat crop in southern Punjab and Sindh are scary. India could learn from that experience to formulate its own system. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, all of this, or even a part of it, would require tremendous political and social cohesion to achieve. I already feel better now that I have shared Dr Kalam’s dream.

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