Temple first or river links first?

Yes, this is election time. Election time is not for truth or hard realities. Election time is to hide the truths and hard realities. That is why the `India shining campaign’ is turning into much mud-sling and some character assassination!
So everybody gets much bruises or other!
Prime Minister and the Dy. Prime Minister had promised to build the inter-state rivers, link them. A very fine sentiment and a very nice gesture. But how serious they are? Why question their seriousness? After all, are they not Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister? Yes, they are, they hold powerful offices. So, there is no reason to doubt their intentions. But what are the ground level realities? The `National Water Grid’ as it was originally called or thought is a hundred year old dream! Has the Prime Minister ever mentioned this fact? Or the Dy.PM?

As far as we know they didn’t. The inter-linking of the rivers, at least in the southern part of India, in the then Madras Presidency goes to Sir Arthur Cotton in 1881. The proposal to create a network of rivers and canals was made in meticulous details by this extraordinary engineer-economist who formulated a comprehensive sub-continental plan for the formation of a national water grid. Sir Arthur Cotton’s plan was elaborate. The plan involved navigation and irrigation, storage and river re-directions. The plan in 1881 cost, just Rs.50 crore!

Yes, that is all old story. Cotton finds a statue erected for him as a benefactor of India, AP and his statue stands on the Tank Bund in Hyderabad. In independent India the only Briton to have this honour. Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and down to the rivers in the deep south were all in his plans. Later in independent India, there were others pioneers. The grand canal scheme of Dastur, K.L.Rao plan were elaborate and at one time or other, these schemes evoked practical interest. But now the inter-river links is being talked about, it is time to remind the politicians how serious they are.

The Vision document of the BJP had evoked much interest. For only one mention! The Ram temple! For its prominent mention of building the temple. The Prime Minister went out of his way to explain the issue, when the document was released. If the Dy.PM’s yatra drummed up one message it was the temple again. The NDA convenor, the gullible George Fernandes, of all socialists-turned turncoats, had made a big case for inclusion of the temple in the document, want us all believe him as one of the authors is he!

The other socialist, Sharad Yadav, observed the Ram Manohar Lohia heirs are there in the NDA for the “revolution” they envisage under the all new political opportunisms!
Don’t we know the other great socialist, Mulayam Yadav. What his election vision document says? Renaming India as Bharat! Doesn’t sound like the RSS agenda? The leader who wants to ban luxury foreign goods, himself sports foreign brands, be it specs or pen or expensive foreign cars. He is in good company with new age tycoons, Sahara and Reliance!

Given the spin doctors like Arun Jaitley and Jaswant Singh, they talk more on hiding the Gujarat carnage issue resurgence, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court verdict, than about serious great economic issues : poverty, drought and employment. At least Sonia Gandhi reminded these high pitched propagandists : green revolution is the gift of Indira Gandhi, so too Pokhran nuclear test or the many other economic development issues.

Now, the National Highway is there. One hopes the National Rivers link will be there soon. The PM, ominously reminded the country that there could be new players in the new government. Old players may leave. One hopes, opportunists apart, they will always be there everywhere!

The very economic crises, the rising problems of the poor, the farmers and the rural masses would force the new government to take up the rivers link-up as a high priority. A 100-years’ dream! It could be realised only by a national consensus and national commitment! Agriculture growth this year helped the BJP to claim 10 per cent growth. Next year it may not be there. So, some issues should be seen as beyond party politics. River links is one such!

 

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