Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'We Indians have a weird and twisted idea of nationalism'

A selection of readers' opinions.

Tricolour trouble

I am glad Anjali Mody laid bare the hollowness of this newfound so-called nationalism of this government and its abusive anonymous social media mafia (“Forget Amazon Canada. Who’s outraging against the daily insults to the national flag in India?”). We are desecrating the Indian flag everyday. Crooks of every hue – including ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, security forces, traders, businessmen, common people – indulge in various corrupt practices or unlawful activities under the shadow of our national flag, which is furled every morning in every government offices across the country. We Indians do have a weird and twisted idea of nationalism. Kujurbachchan

***

This is a wonderful view. We are enraged by the fact that our country flag has been used by Amazon to create a doormat. We got enraged when Aamir Khan spoke of intolerance in India. We get enraged by the fact that Modi’s demonetisation has caused loss of lives.

On January 26 and August 15, we put up posts saying: “I’m proud to be an Indian.” I want to ask: Are you really proud to be an Indian? If you are, then why are you not helping India develop? Are you worried that you cannot bring the change? It takes one person to start a revolution. Why can’t that one person be you?

We have a lot of people in India, whose idea in life is to go abroad, do higher studies, get a job there and earn money. If all of us leave India, who will stay here?

I’m proud of India’s great heritage. But I’m not proud of India. I’m not proud of the way it has become. I’m not proud of the country we have turned it into. It’s time we start the change. It’s time we start reviving India.

This is just my view. I am not anti-nationalist. I am just fed up with the various things around me and I am working on various things that would help change the system – at least its worth a shot. – Surya Teja

***

We Indians seem to have become extremely sensitive, more so in current times, when hyper nationalism is in fashion. The world must be laughing at us, more so because a union minister chose to intervene in this matter, and that too on Twitter! Michael Douglas’ final speech in The American President lays out the stark contrast between the American concept of freedom in the context of the national flag and ours. – Arnab Basak

***

Things that are taboo in a particular society may be perfectly normal in another (“The Daily Fix: Sushma Swaraj threat to Amazon shows how governance is becoming a social media event”). The concern of the minister may have been genuine but the response was inappropriate. Social media may have played a role in her being reactive. Reasoning gets diminished in such circumstances, or even dismissed outright. –Karthik

On the front

The government and military personnel will definitely try and find faults with the soldier (“Lost in the din of a BSF constable’s viral videos – a serious breach of service rules”). If he was so much trouble and had so many issues, why was he still in the forces?

Can our country be defended by people with psychological problems? Who are the armed forces trying to fool, now that the truth is out? We have to accept that there is corruption. Governments are only interested in winning elections by promising people the world. Once elected, however, they conveniently forget those promises. There is absolute no political will to do any good. The soldier is asking the State to fulfill his basic needs, not for gold or silver. Kudos to him for being brave and bold. – Dorothy Mascarenhas

***

It is true that armed forces need to maintain discipline. However to ill-treat jawans, using them as personal servants, not giving them their due – which includes proper nutrition – is highly condemnable. –Sanjeev

Marooned state

The Manipur chief minister has failed on all counts (“Imphal impasse: Manipur has quietly completed 70 days of blockade, with no end in sight”). Militants outfits are his vote bank and they have managed to keep him in his position by gun power and threatening the innocent.

Corruption, extortion and crime are every where. Manipur needs to be revolutionised. The Kukis got what they asked. The Naga demand should also be met. Without it, Manipuris will suffer. The Centre is not going to care because Manipur does not contribute to the economy of India. So it’s better for Manipuris to listen to the Naga demand. Only then will peace prevail in the North East. – Prem George!

Women’s safety

I think society at large is as to blamed for what happened on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru (“Was it mass molestation? Debate rages over what happened in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve”). Fault lies in the mentality of the people who think they can molest and rape women, in the government for not having strict laws to deal with such cases and with local authorities in not ensuring safety.

What happened in Kamanahalli is well known. Kamanahalli is one of the happening places in the city, with a host of restaurants. It also happens to be a sophisticated residential area. But most of the roads do not have street lights they are not used. I don’t know why.

Though darkness is not a reason to molest anyone, a brightly lit area will make people feel safer. I hope the local authorities start putting up more street lights and everyone works towards reducing such incidents by trying to change the mentality of people. – Jennifer Hanna Charles

***

Instead of blaming upbringing, education and the like, let us analyse the situation. There were 1,500 policemen and 50,000 revellers more than half of them with a blood alcohol concentration of around 0.10-0.125. What happens at this level? Loss of good judgement, impaired motor coordination, slurred speech as well as impaired balance, vision and hearing. Is there a rule against getting drunk? No. Can a bartender refuse refuse drinks? No. With this blood alcohol concentration, revellers become Bollywood heroes. So blame drinks and Bollywood, nobody else. – Shanthi Chandrasekhara

Overlooked crime

It is outrageous and shocking that the state and civil society turns a blind eye to this kind of violence against women (“Chhattisgarh must identify and prosecute policemen who raped 16 women, demand activists”). The perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to book and shamed. Adivasi land and culture need to be protected from such inhuman onslaughts. Thank you Scroll.in for consistently covering this issue. – Shikha Bhattacharji

Master of contradictions

Modi is the master of doing the undoable (“First Person: ‘I voted for Modi for change but not for hatred’”). If you say don’t keep corrupt ministers, he’ll confirm them. If you say don’t demonetise without having full knowledge of it, he’ll implement the move. If you ask him not to be hasty in presenting the budget after so much damage has been done by demonetisation, he’ll relish doing that. He’s the master of contradictions.

Mythology revisited

Kavita Kane has added a feminist perspective to the study of Indian mythology by reimagining the women of traditional mythology: Laxmana’s wife Urmila in Sita’s Sister, Uruvi in Karna’s Wife, Menaka in Menaka’s Choice, and presently Surpanakha, in The Princess of Lanka, as a woman with the strength of intellect and emotion (“Ramayana reimagined: Was Ravan actually in love with Sita?”). In her works, these characters appear in a new light, quite different from the way they were presented in the original texts. Kavita Kane gifts them voices of their own. – Joysree Das

Old-school

I respect your concern and interest in publishing the article regarding the Mantra Mangalya, professed by the great Kannada poet Kuvempu (“Why I chose a green wedding, recommended by a Kannada writer in 1966”). However, according to my knowledge, a lot of things the couple here claims to have done, like finding an auspicious day, time and place, were in fact opposed by Kuvempu and were some of the reasons why he professed this method. I might sound like a purist, but this particular example might be counter productive to what Kuvempu intended to do. So it would be better in the future if you could please consult respected scholars before publishing such region- and culture-specific articles. – Sathwik NN

Taking the stage

I found Rahul Gandhi’s speech calmly inspiring (“Playing the mimic: Rahul Gandhi just took a leaf out of Narendra Modi’s book”). I especially liked the part (that the Scroll.in article forgets to highlight) where he outlined the difference of ideology between the Congress and the Sangh Parivar (fear not vs frighten all).

And no, it isn’t anything like Modi’s speech. Modi mixes half-truths with crude and loud language to ridicule people. Rarely is there anything intellectually appealing in any of his speeches. Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, rarely directly attack other politicians until there is real cause. The sarcastic comments on Modi were justified, because he not only bungled up the whole demonestisation exercise but has also tried to fudge the truth about it. – Shabeer

***

We were all trembling at the very thought of Rahul Gandhi causing an earthquake – but what we got instead was a taste of a budding stand-up comic! – Raghavendra Pattabhi

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

India’s urban water crisis calls for an integrated approach

We need solutions that address different aspects of the water eco-system and involve the collective participation of citizens and other stake-holders.

According to a UN report, around 1.2 billion people, or almost one fifth of the world’s population, live in areas where water is physically scarce and another 1.6 billion people, or nearly one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage. They lack basic access to water. The criticality of the water situation across the world has in fact given rise to speculations over water wars becoming a distinct possibility in the future. In India the problem is compounded, given the rising population and urbanization. The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a water deficit of 50%.

Water challenges in urban India

For urban India, the situation is critical. In 2015, about 377 million Indians lived in urban areas and by 2030, the urban population is expected to rise to 590 million. Already, according to the National Sample Survey, only 47% of urban households have individual water connections and about 40% to 50% of water is reportedly lost in distribution systems due to various reasons. Further, as per the 2011 census, only 32.7% of urban Indian households are connected to a piped sewerage system.

Any comprehensive solution to address the water problem in urban India needs to take into account the specific challenges around water management and distribution:

Pressure on water sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. In a city like Mumbai for example, 3,750 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water, including water for commercial and industrial use, is available, whereas 4,500 MLD is needed. The primary sources of water for cities like Mumbai are lakes created by dams across rivers near the city. Distributing the available water means providing 386,971 connections to the city’s roughly 13 million residents. When distribution becomes challenging, the workaround is to tap ground water. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial and domestic use in most cities is leading to reduction in ground water level.

Distribution and water loss issues: Distribution challenges, such as water loss due to theft, pilferage, leaky pipes and faulty meter readings, result in unequal and unregulated distribution of water. In New Delhi, for example, water distribution loss was reported to be about 40% as per a study. In Mumbai, where most residents get only 2-5 hours of water supply per day, the non-revenue water loss is about 27% of the overall water supply. This strains the municipal body’s budget and impacts the improvement of distribution infrastructure. Factors such as difficult terrain and legal issues over buildings also affect water supply to many parts. According to a study, only 5% of piped water reaches slum areas in 42 Indian cities, including New Delhi. A 2011 study also found that 95% of households in slum areas in Mumbai’s Kaula Bunder district, in some seasons, use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 litres per capita per day.

Water pollution and contamination: In India, almost 400,000 children die every year of diarrhea, primarily due to contaminated water. According to a 2017 report, 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces-contaminated drinking water source, becoming susceptible to a range of diseases. Industrial waste is also a major cause for water contamination, particularly antibiotic ingredients released into rivers and soils by pharma companies. A Guardian report talks about pollution from drug companies, particularly those in India and China, resulting in the creation of drug-resistant superbugs. The report cites a study which indicates that by 2050, the total death toll worldwide due to infection by drug resistant bacteria could reach 10 million people.

A holistic approach to tackling water challenges

Addressing these challenges and improving access to clean water for all needs a combination of short-term and medium-term solutions. It also means involving the community and various stakeholders in implementing the solutions. This is the crux of the recommendations put forth by BASF.

The proposed solutions, based on a study of water issues in cities such as Mumbai, take into account different aspects of water management and distribution. Backed by a close understanding of the cost implications, they can make a difference in tackling urban water challenges. These solutions include:

Recycling and harvesting: Raw sewage water which is dumped into oceans damages the coastal eco-system. Instead, this could be used as a cheaper alternative to fresh water for industrial purposes. According to a 2011 World Bank report, 13% of total freshwater withdrawal in India is for industrial use. What’s more, the industrial demand for water is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% per year till 2025. Much of this demand can be met by recycling and treating sewage water. In Mumbai for example, 3000 MLD of sewage water is released, almost 80% of fresh water availability. This can be purified and utilised for industrial needs. An example of recycled sewage water being used for industrial purpose is the 30 MLD waste water treatment facility at Gandhinagar and Anjar in Gujarat set up by Welspun India Ltd.

Another example is the proposal by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to recycle and reclaim sewage water treated at its existing facilities to meet the secondary purposes of both industries and residential complexes. In fact, residential complexes can similarly recycle and re-use their waste water for secondary purposes such as gardening.

Also, alternative rain water harvesting methods such as harvesting rain water from concrete surfaces using porous concrete can be used to supplement roof-top rain water harvesting, to help replenish ground water.

Community initiatives to supplement regular water supply: Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralised treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution. Water towers or elevated reservoirs with onsite filters can also help optimise the space available for water distribution in congested cities. Water ATMs, which are automated water dispensing units that can be accessed with a smart card or an app, can ensure metered supply of safe water.

Testing and purification: With water contamination being a big challenge, the adoption of affordable and reliable multi-household water filter systems which are electricity free and easy to use can help, to some extent, access to safe drinking water at a domestic level. Also, the use of household water testing kits and the installation of water quality sensors on pipes, that send out alerts on water contamination, can create awareness of water contamination and drive suitable preventive steps.

Public awareness and use of technology: Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. For example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water. Similarly, government water apps, like that of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, can be used to spread tips on water saving, report leakage or send updates on water quality.

Collaborative approach: Finally, a collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. There are already examples of best practices here. For example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders. Involving citizens through social business models for decentralised water supply, treatment or storage installations like water ATMs, as also the appointment of water guardians who can report on various aspects of water supply and usage can help in efficient water management. Grass-root level organizations could be partnered with for programmes to spread awareness on water safety and conservation.

For BASF, the proposed solutions are an extension of their close engagement with developing water management and water treatment solutions. The products developed specially for waste and drinking water treatment, such as Zetag® ULTRA and Magnafloc® LT, focus on ensuring sustainability, efficiency and cost effectiveness in the water and sludge treatment process.

BASF is also associated with operations of Reliance Industries’ desalination plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.The thermal plant is designed to deliver up to 170,000 cubic meters of processed water per day. The use of inge® ultrafiltration technologies allows a continuous delivery of pre-filtered water at a consistent high-quality level, while the dosage of the Sokalan® PM 15 I protects the desalination plant from scaling. This combination of BASF’s expertise minimises the energy footprint of the plant and secures water supply independent of the seasonal fluctuations. To know more about BASF’s range of sustainable solutions and innovative chemical products for the water industry, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.