The groundwater solution This is in reference to the editorial “Saving groundwater in India”. The article clearly spells out the problem. But does any government have the courage to act? One suggestion from my side is that for every borewell dug, the user must also dig a recharging bore so that run-off rainwater can be used to recharge groundwater. Second, charging for groundwater may not be possible, but levying a one-time heavy fee for granting permission to dig a borewell may work. Third, the government under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme or any other assistance programme must concentrate labour on building artificial lakes in rural areas (instead of using the labour to just break stones), which will help collect rainwater during the monsoon.
This refers to the editorial “For 10 million new jobs”. The article is thought-provoking and provides practical guidelines that can create millions of jobs in the coming years. To create 10 million jobs per year is a Herculean task. In this, the government should work with the private sector and civil society to utilize the demographic dividend in India’s favour. There are numerous ways to create jobs:
First, more emphasis needs to be put on the service industry, so that India can become the services centre of the world.
Second, the construction industry will provide jobs as well as the foundation for future growth.
Third, the food processing industry will improve incomes of farmers as well as provide jobs to the needy.
Fourth, India needs country-specific dynamic strategies while keeping in mind the global demand in order to generate maximum employment in the long and short runs.
Finally, policy gaps should be filled on an urgent basis.
— Shailendra Verma
Apropos the editorial “A million Helens now”, it is beyond doubt that without the help of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left, the historic Women’s Reservation Bill would have never seen the light of day. But it is also true that the determination of one woman—Sonia Gandhi—who pushed for a vote on the Bill, paved the way to pass the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. She, without any fear, took the bold and historic decision, though she was fully aware that it might cause the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to lose its majority. For this decision she deserves our congratulations and appreciation.
Gandhi knew that stiff opposition would come from caste-based regional parties, such as the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and others, which have gained electorally year after year from cast divisions in Indian society. She again showed the world that her renunciation of the post of prime minister in 2004, or her support to the government over the nuclear agreement with the Bush administration were not gimmicks.
Now, the Bill will move to the Lower House of Parliament. After the debacle in the Upper House, my advice to the UPA chairperson is that her party should be vigilant, and ensure that business does not suffer on account of the belligerence of the Opposition or even its own allies. Gandhi should not forget that in the coalition raj, before taking any decision, allies such as the Trinamool Congress and others should be consulted.
Even today, in towns and villages, thousands of women are reluctant to take the names of their spouses. One of the main opponents of the Bill, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, proudly said: “If I asked Rabri Devi to vote a certain way, do you think she would do otherwise?” But I strongly believe that the 33% reservation for women in Parliament will surely change the political landscape in India.
— Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee
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