Modi promotes water conservation, literature

Ravi Shanker Kapoor |

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat programme on radio yesterday, the first after returning to power, has been widely covered for his emphasis on water conservation. But it is also important because he discusses literature too—something politicians rarely do.

Calling for a mass movement in the country for water conservation, he said, “Water scarcity affects many parts of the country every year. You will be surprised that only 8 per cent of the water received from rains in the entire year is harvested in our country. Just and just 8 per cent! Now the time has come to find a solution to this problem. I believe, like the other problems on hand, we can also solve this predicament by the participation of the people, Janbhagidari, and their power, Janshakti, we are bound to find a solution through the strength, cooperation and resolution of one hundred and thirty crore citizens.”

Owing to the importance of water, the government has set up a new Jalashakti Ministry, the Prime Minister said. “This will allow faster decision-making on all subjects related to water.”

There cannot be a single formula for dealing with water crisis across the country, he said, adding that for this, efforts are being made in different parts of the country, in diverse ways.

“The drainage lines are being fixed in Punjab. This effort would rid of the problem of water logging. The construction of the water-tank in Telangana’s Thimmaipalli is changing the lives of the people of the village. There has been a major change through construction of small ponds in the fields at Kabirdham in Rajasthan. I was reading about the collective endeavor in Vellore of Tamil Nadu where 20,000 women came together to revive the Nag river. I have also read about those women of Garhwal, who are working together on the good work of implementing rainwater harvesting. I believe that many such attempts are being made and we can turn impossible in to possible when we are together and strive with collective resolve,” he said.

Modi made three requests to people. “My first request is that just like cleanliness drive has been given the shape of a mass movement by the countrymen, let’s also start a mass movement for water conservation. We together should all resolve to save every drop of water and I believe that water is God’s prasad to us… Let us start an awareness campaign to save even a single drop of water… I specifically urge the luminaries belonging to different walks of life to lead promotion of water conservation through innovative campaigns.”

His second request pertained to sharing many traditional methods that have been in use over the centuries in our country for the conservation of water. “My third request to all of you is that share the information concerning the people who are making significant contributions towards water conservation, NGOs and everyone else associated in the area of water conservation in order to create an intensive database of individuals and organizations dedicated to water preservation.”

Modi also promoted book reading in his radio address. He reminded people that earlier he had said ‘No bouquet, just a book,’ urging all to choose books over flowers in welcome or felicitation ceremonies. “Since then, people have been offering books at many a place. Just recently, someone gave me a book entitled Premchand Ki LokapriyaKahaniyan, popular short stories by Premchand. It was a great feeling. Of course, I couldn’t get much time, but during my travelling, I got an opportunity to read some of his short stories once again.”

The Prime Minister admired the stories. “Images of the stark social realities that Premchand has portrayed in his stories vividly start forming in one’s mind when you read them. Each and every element of his writings comes alive. His stories are expressions of human emotions through simple, lucid language… they have touched my heart. His stories embody the collective psyche’, the cumulative being of the country, of the land.”

Modi went on to discuss some of the stories—Nashaa, Eidgah, and Poos Ki Raat.

It is heartening to note that the Prime Minister is promoting book reading. A country rife with philistinism badly needs such a dose, not just for publishers but also for people at large. After all, it is the finer aspects of life like literature that check our descent into a rabble.

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