I am taking the liberty of offering these words of wisdom from a friend and exceptionally well informed and thoughtful person Vishwanath Srikantaiah. His writing and photography documenting the situation with the water crisis here in India is profound – please read and comment if you wish. The facebook link to his photographs which accompany the original post is here.
A way of life ends. It does so sometimes subtly, sometimes brutally . Rural India as I see it is in profound crisis. There is great hunger even now. Land reforms never really took off and much of the people are therefore landless labourers and small farmers. Especially in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh , Madhya pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and West Bengal. There is no living to be made in small farming and none whatsoever for landless labourers. NREGA (Government scheme for employing labour in the rural sector) was a salve and just that. The only escape route is the city , de-humanising, brutal and insensitive but all the young men have left , the young women will follow and the children too. Brazil went from 30 – 70 urban rural mix to 80-20 in about 30 years.
China is following perhaps not at the same pace and India too will follow. The industrialization-urbanization-make in India model , the 7.50 % GDP model.
Profound inequity, wealth in the hands of a few, ecological degradation , scarce resources and even scarcer opportunities , great swathes of people are moving – out of Syria, Libya , Yemen , Iraq, Afghanistan to avoid war brought about by either water as a resource running out or too much oil.
In India , the movement is relatively peaceful yet not as brutal. 40 million or thereabouts displaced by dams, mining and so it goes. Then the great dependence on groundwater. 33 million bore-wells pumping out 250 cu.km. of groundwater , reaching depths of 2000 feet . When groundwater runs out , farming is simply impossible. Now the fight over river waters …inexorable the lure of the city and the desperation of the village.
Here are people, technologies and water struggling to remain relevant . In a span of 24 years liberalization of the economy has done what 5000 years of history had not done. The changes are profound and searing . We must get our cities to become more welcoming to the people who will arrive mostly in distress , mostly without a safety net , mostly working in the informal sector, mostly occupying slums .
There are 3 people whose idea of India is under test Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. Gandhiji is losing . It is an Ambedkar victory through and through. (http://www.allresearchjournal.com/archives/2016/vol2issue6/PartF/2-6-32-147.pdf )
Nostalgia is not what it used to be.
When I read his post I cried.
Is that helpful? No – I do not believe so.. but emotion is a real response and frankly unless at some point we feel the situation deeply enough to elicit tears, we are unlikely to act. As Spiritual Teacher Andrew Harvey has said – out of heartbreak is born: “Sacred Activism – the fusion of the deepest mystical knowledge, peace, strength, and stamina with calm focused and radical action”.
My personal sacred activism takes the form of Service to Mother Earth and in particular that of bringing water. This work has arisen from heartbreak as I looked around me with clear eyes and began to see what is really happening on our beautiful planet.
The heartbreaks do not stop – they come in waves – and will continue to do so until such time as we wake up and together initiate profound change in the way we treat our world and our neighbours and those who are members of this vast sea of humanity – all who are our brothers and sisters.
There are times when I feel the desperation of how may it ever be possible to stem the tide of the take-over by the corporations and the greedy and the manipulation of our lives at all levels – and I ask that painful question: “Why am I bothering to do what I do? What is the point of these infinitesimal actions against the power and the strength of those who would swallow our freedoms?” – but deep inside me I know that each small action can initiate a ripple that spreads we know not where. So I keep on throwing the pebble into the proverbial pond and trust that what I have been asked to do has meaning beyond all that I see.
So too I ask of you – take heart – know that you are only asked to do what is possible – never more – and know also that when you are on purpose and are clear in your actions, your work has meaning and power far beyond that which you see. Don’t stop, don’t give up – hold the hand of your friends seen and unseen and move forward in gratitude and trust.
Our planet may choose for us – but change will come – the pendulum must swing – the laws of the Universe (and physics) will not allow this state of imbalance and destruction for very much longer. Stay awake – for the change is close at hand.
Another world is not only possible. She is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.
– Arundhati Roy