The business of drought: politicians are the modern-day Asuras
Mother nature doesn't discriminate among her children. She always gives more than what's required to fulfill our needs.
It's the sentient beings, governed by the illusion of 'Maya', who have created the temporal power structures, giving rise to disparity among humans.
The all-pervading dynamics of conflict between good and evil forces is played out within the same realm. We often see the demons getting the better of deities, as they too are cast in the image of the supreme power.
According to Hindu mythology, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is said to govern existence. Maya holds together the cosmic governance through its three components: sattva (purity), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance).
It's not as though deities can escape the clutches of Maya. Lord Vishnu tries to move the entire creation towards sattva, but his consort, Lakshmi, entices the world in rajas and tamas.
The current cry for water is not borne out of scarcity. The figures for the total rainfall in Rajasthan, the water coming from other states, as well as the amount of water conserved through various means will surprise you.
This much water should be sufficient to meet the total demand for four to five years. Add to it the excessive rainfall and floods that are a regular occurrence, and it's a great shame that we still remain thirsty.
Under the spell of Lakshmi
What's keeping our throats parched is the corruption and inadvertence of our leaders. Their consciences seem to be under the spell of Goddess Lakshmi.
Vishnu had bestowed riches upon them so they could elevate themselves from Nara (human) to Narayana (God) by serving the poor. However, their deeds are undoubtedly mired in Maya.
Foodgrain production, droughts and floods have become lucrative businesses these days. These are among the most profitable industries of our times. A select few are earning billions out of this malfeasant trade, and the ruling class is not ready to lose their favour.
Political masters are receiving their share of bounty through an institutionalised system of corruption.
In such circumstances, who cares for the hapless masses? After all, what can they give the politicians apart from votes once every five years?
The fad of aerial surveys
There is no dearth of funds for flood relief in government coffers. Every district is allocated a generous sum of money for this purpose.
But one fad among 'Delhiwallahs' is to conduct an aerial survey in every flood contingency. A large chunk of relief money is spent on the hospitality of these 'special guests' in the affected regions.
Wiping the tears of victims takes a back seat, as most of the official machinery engages in welcoming the visiting leaders.
I have personally seen such situations from close quarters.
The Barmer district of Rajasthan was devastated by floods a few years ago. Rajasthan Patrika was at the forefront of relief operations during this calamity.
We managed to distribute relief money in the Kawas village through the then Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat much before government help reached the local residents.
Many leaders came riding on choppers like
baraatis. Local administrative officials, too, behaved like the relatives of the bridegroom. They walked away with their gifts in the form of allowances, and soon forgot the plight of the village. Nothing apparently changed for the villagers.
This apathy begs a question: are flood prevention and relief efforts relevant at all? The money spent in the name of floods since independence is on record. But, there are no remnants of the change that was supposed to be brought through such huge spending.
The business surrounding the drought situations is huge. On many occasions, the disaster is deliberately created, to help a large number of people reap huge dividends by selling water in many 'dark zones' across the country.
The trade goes on with impunity as the government and the administration is complicit.
We often see a precarious situation, where areas near canals have lush green fields, but the people of the same locality struggle to find water for daily requirements. The rich and the powerful have monopolised huge dams and water reservoirs.
A large amount of water from dams is diverted for industries at the expense of local villages. The fields of the poor farmers are parched, they lose their cattle to drought, but the fields of the few influential people remain green.
Demons of the modern era
Such injustice prevails only because the youth of this country has still not woken up.
Most dams are planned only keeping in view industrial needs. The fundamental right of water is being snatched from the people by their own representatives.
These are the Asuras, the demons of the modern era. The development of the country has become synonymous with their progress. This petty thinking ought to be razed to the ground.
What would be the harm if a single gate at a dam is kept open by just half an inch on a daily basis? Even such a small steps can go a long way in helping many distressed villages without harming anybody. But, the political establishment is hardly interested in such innovative ideas.
There are around 5,000-6,000 small and big water reservoirs across Rajasthan. The arrogance of powers-that-be is killing all of them. The Ramgarh Lake near Jaipur is a prime example - it has dried up due to illegal construction activities in the catchment area.
Politicians are least bothered even if all the villages are desiccated. They will be happy to visit Delhi with a begging bowl and return with an aid package of thousands of crores. This will be the end of drought for them.
Our leaders need to take the lead in ensuring the rapid development of drought-affected areas year after year. They should be generous in spending money over creating awareness for water conservation. This will leave a long-lasting imprint regarding the noble intentions of our politicians on the public psyche.
Air dropping packets of food in far-flung drought-hit areas has lately become fashionable. Let me say from personal experience that the bulk of the task of collecting and distributing food and clothing amidst any calamity is done by the public. The administration only encourages hoarders.
Corrupt officials fill their pockets by showing the purchase of relief items at much higher rates in government files. The help reaches the needy only on papers.
This is the 'relief'. This is the only 'development'.