One of the abiding mysteries to most media watchers in India would be the general diffidence, and limited coverage provided to Kailash Satyarthi being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his work with saving children from exploitation. Perhaps the fact that the prize acknowledged a grim reality of life in India was not such a comfortable truth for the media to digest.
But it is clear that if an Indian is to ever win a Nobel Peace prize again, she would do well to focus on the area of environment, and water would be a great start. For nothing comes close for the sheer numbers, urgency, and need for action here. We already have our ‘water man’, Shri Rajendra Singh, who, among many awards, has already won the Stockholm Water Prize, an award known as the ‘Nobel for water’, for his lifelong work on water conservation, management, and its impact on rural livelihoods.
But now, with India urbanizing at an incredible rate, with cities like Bengaluru, Noida, Gurgaon completely transformed or created from scratch over the past 2-3 decades, it is clear that the water challenge is going to be the story of our lives. Not only because it
is about providing this basic resource to such a massive number of people, at comfortably over half a billion by 2020, but also because of its impact on so many other factors. Be it industrialization or agricultural incomes, and finally, that beloved number for central planners, GDP growth.
We are seeing the beginnings of the stress and strains this resource will cause in the future, in the many disputes and rifts between states so far over river waters, be it the Cauvery, the Yamuna, the Ganga, Narmada and more. There are international fissures too linked to water, be it the river Jhelum and Pakistan, or the Brahmaputra and China.
A leader, be it a person or an organization, that can blaze a trail and make a significant impact on this challenge with sustainable solutions is guaranteed glory, for not only will it decide the future for a billion plus, but also provide a direction to live our life for generations ahead.