Recession is elsewhere

Published: Thursday 15 January 2009

Recession is elsewhere

-- Hail those who bail themselves out

Move over, Dwalpment. Beyond boom-and-bust cycles, there exists the exponential effect of growing grass to bind the soil, planting trees once the soil is so held, catching every drop of water clouds supply, accounting for every drop of water demanded, and so prospering.

The US Treasury cannot fathom contour-trenching, gully- plugging, grass-cutting, milch livestock or a water audit. Finance capitalism cannot match the complexity of a watershed, where all profit arises out of consensus, where survival evolves to a political consciousness of a nurturing kind.

A trader in futures or derivatives, can't match a gram sabha--he is a mere individual; they function as decisive one. He can only speculate; they converse for a concrete outcome. His intelligence is portfolio-divergent; they converge to a shared plan. His focus is the moment; they prosper over time.

He can make millions; it's called making a killing. They make millions, too; its called regenerating.

Down to Earth 1989-90 Hardly 12 per cent of the cultivable land can be farmed at Hiware Bazar, in Maharashtra's Ahmadnagar district. Families shift out. Those left behind clear forests to survive

1989 Popat Rao Pawar is elected sarpanch. His slogan catch water

1993 With help from the district social forestry department, the village begins regenerating the completely degraded 70 hectares of village forest and the catchments of wells. Panchayat builds 40,000 contour trenches around the hills. After monsoon, irrigation area increases from 20 ha to 70 ha

1995-2000 Hiware Bazar prepares a five-year plan for ecological regeneration, through watershed works. The plan becomes the blueprint to integrate state government schemes, such as the Employment Guarantee Scheme, into what the village wants. Twelve state agencies and the village work in tandem

1995 Families begin to reverse-migrate to Hiware Bazar in increasing earnest

Down to Earth 2002 Hiware Bazar, now awake to the fact that water availability can also mean individual over-use, decides to annually budget water. The village measures all the water available, estimates its use and then prescribes cropping pattern

Today 54 of the village's 216 families are millionaires. The village's per capita income is twice the average of the top 10 in rural areas Indiawide (Rs 890 per month)

  • It is heartening to read that the residents of Hiware Bazar brought about a remarkable change.

  • I firmly believe Hiware Bazar can be a model for others. [My research] corroborates your experience.
    Geoffery J Matthews

  • Ralegan Siddhi and Hiware Bazar are not the only examples of successful water management by the people.
    Samar Bagchi

  • I am glad you visited Hiware Bazar. In May 2007, I accompanied some hydrologists there. They were highly impressed.
    Shrikant D Limaye

  • The editorial on Hiware Bazar juxtaposed to the Hirakud agitation was illuminating. I wish I had a Marathi version.
    Dilnawaz Variava
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