Every Drop Counts

A week ago, a fourteen year old kid in my family had the happiness of seeing his birthday coming near. So, of course, he knew well his parents would soon be putting forward to him the most important question. The most important question of what he wanted as his birthday gift. And being a sincere and sensible kid that he is, he had started thinking of a suitable answer since months before and had his answer ready even before his parents had realized that the all important month was upon them.

Fortunately, they noticed The Month just in time and put forward the question that, of course, they were duty bound to put forward. And the answer was, ‘I need a smartphone.’

Not want, but NEED, did you notice? And not a phone, but a SMARTphone. And as the details followed. He NEEDED a smartphone with at least a five inch screen. And an eight megapixel camera. And a stylus, if possible. And of course 3G connectivity. And nothing less than quad core processing.

But let us not blame the child. He is growing up in a world where desires often masquerade as needs and become the ambitions and aspirations of our life and career. But let me tell you one thing. If you ever find yourself feeling disappointed because you were not able to satisfy one of you desires, then congratulate yourself. Congratulate yourself because if you can focus so much on your desires, it just means you have no need to battle every day to satisfy your needs.

Not all are so lucky. Much too large a number of us is not so lucky. There are people living in regions where every time they enter their home, they thank the Lord for returning them alive. And then, there are places where even the homes are not safe and the creation of new ruins everyday by bomb blasts is a matter of normal life. There are people who congratulate themselves upon finding a morsel to feed their hungry kids. And there are people who have to walk for miles just to reach water that may, or may not, be drinkable.

Here, let me ask, what did the last sentence make you think of? Most likely, you were reminded of a scene from some Bollywood movie where young village girls are singing songs as they walk gracefully along in one single line carrying pitcher upon pitcher of water on their heads. Or maybe you were even reminded of the very lovely song ‘Aadha hai chandrama, raat aadhi,’ in which the heroine dances while balancing a whole tower of pitchers on her heard. Pretty pictures such scenes and dances make, right? I too never thought it otherwise either till I saw this video.

Of course, I knew well that people of many regions in India battle everyday with water scarcity. Not just in rural India, the water scarcity is a big and ever increasing problem even in our cities. Just a few months ago, the news channels showed little kids in Maharashtra risking their lives by climbing down into dangerous wells just to fetch a few liters of water. Those were horrifying images, and I really pitied those kids.

But I never knew how much the women in rural India suffer too just to provide water to their family. Never actually gave it a thought.

But I’m glad not all have been so inattentive to these problems. Cynthiya Koenig for example seems to have observed and examined the problem carefully and has come up with a very interesting means of helping rural Indian women in speedy collection of water. If the women folk in our villages can use Cynthia’s invention, it would definitely save much of their time and energy, and save them from a lot of pain and exertion. And of course, as Cynthiya points out, they can then use their time and energies in more productive pursuits and help in establishing a better financial condition of their family.

But a lot depends upon how inexpensive this easily transportable pitcher is. Because if this cannot be made as cheap, or almost as cheap as the matkas the women use, there’s little chance many of them would be able to use it at all.

Also, this invention is but a transportation device. It can reduce the labour of water carriers, and save their time. But it in no way deals with water scarcity.

I wish and pray some speedy means can be found out to tackle that ever increasing problem. Because by the rate even the ground water is getting less and less, the future years seem nothing less than scary.

Water harvesting and water conversation is no longer an option. It is actually a really urgent need of the day. None of us needs to be taught about how important water is for life. But seeing how some people struggle every day to get just a little bit of water shows just how precious even a few drops of water can get.

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Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

The blog post has been written for The Idea Caravan contest featuring videos presenting innovative solutions to common problem.

Copyright 2013 Jyoti Arora

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