Day Zero, when a country or region runs out of water, is a historic catastrophe we hope we never have to face in India. The spectre of drought and lack of hygiene that it represents would have terrible and long-lasting impacts on the social and civic structures that govern India. The dire consequences that are projected act as warning signs and help focus and driveefforts to avert such a calamity. Still, as the water crisis rages on and large parts of our country contend with lack of hygiene, it pays to remind ourselves of what awaits us, if we fail to correct the situation in time.
The Widening Urban Rural Divide
The depletion of our water resources and lack of access to hygiene disproportionately affects our rural citizens. Most of them are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, an industry which would more or less collapse, if Day Zero were to arrive. The destruction of the rural way of life would lead to mass migration to our already congested cities and push millions into poverty, fuelling populism and discontent among the masses.
Loss Of Social Cohesion
Every dystopian tale details how depleting resources rip societies apart at the seams. It will be especially true, if different groups within India are forced to compete for the same, limited resources of water and hygiene. India’s diversity, which we so pride ourselves on, would become a source of discord and conflict in such a situation. What’s more, internal disharmony will make it harder to solve our existential water and hygiene crisis, making the situation worse.
The End Of The Indian Dream
India’s growth relies a great deal on the progressive and ingenuous aspirations of its people. To pursue these dreams, which help uplift them and the country as a whole, young Indians need unrestricted access to the essential building blocks of life, like clean water and hygiene. If Day Zero were to deny the youth of this country the opportunities of a healthy, fulfilling life, it will lead to an irreversible decline in India’s economic future. The health problems caused by this would further eat into our wealth, leaving vast numbers of Indians shorn of hope or optimism.
There are several adverse effects which will begin to reflect in the lives of our countrymen much before Day Zero arrives, if we don’t work to mitigate the water crisis and promote hygiene. Even incremental changes in our provisions of water and hygiene can have big effects on the lives of people. We must decide how to ensure those changes are always positive.
Mission Paani, an initiative by CNN News18 and Harpic India is leading a drive to save India’s precious water resources and make hygiene a way of life. You can contribute to the cause by taking a Jal Pratigya. Visit www.news18.com/mission-paani