VikalpSangam (‘Alternatives Confluences’) networks groups and individuals working on alternatives to the currently dominant model of development and governance. This note attempts to lay out thoughts towards a process of VikalpSangam in an effort to stimulate dialogue and visioning. From COUNTERCURRENTS.ORG.
Despite large-scale water supply infrastructure built over the years in India, areas prone to drought have only increased. Communities having had to deal with changing climate and ill-planned infrastructure, innovate and look at simple systems to manage water requirements. Gopakumar Menon throws light on such best practices, and asserts the need of the Government to learn from these.
Communities moving away from traditional farming in search of opportunities in cities is a common trend in India. With is the loss of traditional farming knowledge and practices that have proven over and over to be sustainable is worrying. But there is are a few shining examples, as shown by the author Mari Marcel Thekaekara, in her article on Sustainable Planting.
Dr. Arun Balmatti highlights the changes in farming practices over the years and the intermediaries that have changed the landscape of sustainable farming in the country. He eludes to the need to work in communities rather than as individuals to move towards sustainable societies.
Alex Jensen in his thought-provoking article on waste management, focuses our attention on plastic wastes in India and the associated environmental problems. He highlights linkages between climate change, environmental health, plastics production, waste & health of the economy, to drive home the point of interdependencies and the need to move towards zero waste options. Above: Leh landfill. Photo Credit: Juan Del Rio
Louis B Figaredo uses the case of the Paniyas to drive home the importance of traditional knowledge. This community has for several decades depended on the forests and farmlands for sustenance and because of which respect their respect for the environment is immense. Above: Paniya tribe cultivating paddy in leased land.
P. N. Venugopal uses the small town of Alappuzha, Kerala, to highlight the issues of waste management in many towns and cities in India, and the amazing things that can be achieved jointly through community and government action. Picture above: Aerobic compost unit in Alappuzha Municipality.
Sesame known as the Queen of Oil Seeds is grown extensively in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Orissa. It is drought resistant and many pests find it inedible because of its salty tang. The only requirement is regularity in the rainfall pattern. With the accelerating changes in climate the inherent need of the sesame crop for good rain at planting and dry spells during harvesting has become skewered. Ganapathi Bhat observes that this unpredictability has reduced productivity and many farmers are seeking alternate means of livelihood.
Unbridled usage of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides had denuded the soil of its rich micro nutrients and drastically reduced yield. The skyrocketing debt and lack of productivity led many farmers to commit suicide. The youth moved to cities for better prospects, lived in abysmal conditions and earned a pittance which was hardly enough to meet their obligations. Mallikurjana Hosapalya writes about reverse migration from cities to villages through stories of some of the youth and urban experienced couples who had chosen to return to the villages, to take up agriculture, using time honed methods that had stood the test of time.
The wide range of Millets that are grown in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Deccan Plateau, have nourished the consumer and sustained the soil. They just require 200-300 mm water as against 2500 mm needed for “Green Revolution“ rice farming. Arthi Chandrasekar has learnt from her elders about the innumerable possibilities of cooking delicious dishes from Millets. She passionately advocates the need for reversing the decelerating trend in climate change and the looming crisis in water.