Rahul Gandhi and a thirsty man: Ravi Shanker Kapoor
A thirsty man requests Rahul Gandhi, “Please, give me a glass of water.”
RG: According to our scriptures, water is one of the five elements the universe is made up of, the other four being earth, fire, air, and space. Over 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Life is said to have begun in water, in oceans to be precise. Without water, life cannot exist. Therefore, your request is totally valid. In fact, you are empowered to ask for water. My interaction with you gives me the idea that we should come up with the Right to Water. My party will ensure that the people of this country get adequate water.
Thirsty man: But, sir, right now I need it urgently.
RG: I sympathize with you, as I sympathize with 120 crore people of this country. All of them need water; most of them need it urgently. Taking cognizance of this reality, our government formulated the National Water Policy in 2012. It says, “A scarce natural resource, water is fundamental to life, livelihood, food security and sustainable development. India has more than 18% of the world’s population, but has only 4% of world’s renewable water resources and 2.4% of world’s land area.”
Now, you can understand the gravity of the situation. Nature has not been very kind to us, dumping almost every fifth person of the world on us, while giving a small fraction of the water resources and land area. But we will make a tryst with water-abundant future.
Thirsty man: For God’s sake, give me a glass of water!
RG: As I said earlier, your demand is valid and I assure you that you would soon be empowered to have your glass of water. For me and my party, empowerment is an article of faith. But you must appreciate the fact that India is already water stressed. Rapid growth in population, urbanization, new lifestyles, etc., are only aggravating the situation. Water governance leaves a lot to be desired.
Then there are problems like floods, vagaries of monsoon and increased erosion. And as if these traditional troubles were not enough, there is the threat of climate change, leading to salinity intrusion in ground water aquifers, and augmented coastal inundation in coastal regions.
Against this backdrop, potable water remains a dream for millions of people and in large parts of the country. We acknowledge that acute shortages may lead to what have been called ‘water wars.’
Thirsty man: I don’t want any war, just a glass of water.
RG: I couldn’t agree more with you. The Aam Aadmi does not want war; he only wants roti, kapda, and makaan—and, of course, water. The people of this country have a legacy of peace coexistence. Great personages like Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira, Guru Nanak, Mahatma Gandhi, and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru have preached love and amity to the world. For centuries, people of various faiths, communities, cultures, and languages lived in India amicably. It is only communal outfits that want to divide the masses.
The need of the hour is the defeat of the forces that want to divide the people on religious lines, destroy the social fabric of nation, and besmirch our composite culture. The Congress pledges to combat the communalists with all its might. We will ensure that Gujarat 2002 does not get repeated. The communalists massacre the Muslims in Gujarat, and then talk about the Gujarat model of development! By the way, let me make it clear that most claims made about the progress made by Gujarat are phony.
Thirsty man: But I am talking about water, not Gujarat.
RG: Yeah, yeah, I know that, but Gujarat is important, especially Gujarat 2002. As for the issue you have raised…
Thirsty man: Sir, it’s not an issue. I am dying of thirst. Just give me a glass of water.
RG: My friend, it is an issue. It is related to the great philosophical and moral questions of the day. For instance, who own groundwater? Many believe that it is as an individual property that they can exploit at will. But this is a wrong notion, because it involves the matters of equity and sustainability. If you continue to use water, from ground or elsewhere, with impunity, there would a situation in not-so-distant future that we would be left with no water.
Thirsty man: Well, I am still without any water anyway. Your Royal Highness, please stop, for if thirst doesn’t kill me, your speech will.