India is largely a tropical country, with nearly two-thirds of its population eking out its meagre living on agriculture. Agriculture's contribution in our economy is 13.9 per cent. Therefore one can infer that our agriculture is a problem-silencer and problem-adder, the former because where the employment is hidden by disguised employment and the latter because large amount of our work-force goes waste because of the dismal productivity. Discounting all these negativities, the fact of the matter remains that ours is predominantly an agricultural economy. Farming community in India derives its life-blood from the monsoon-dependent agriculture. People work hard, put in consistent efforts but at the end of the day, the returns remain uncertain, and no less elusive. The primary reason for the uncertainty is our uneven and uncertain water resources. Where large swathes of land remain dry for large parts of the year, some months give farmers a big worry by floods and their regular unseemliness.
Water-crisis in our country is an ever-pervading reality. Many a people die, directly and indirectly, because of water deficiency, water depletion and water sufficiency but having become poison. With increasing subsistence and use of water, it is no rocket-science to understand that a substantial number of our north-Indian perennial rivers have either become dead, near-dead or heavily polluted. The example of a dead river in recent times is Hindon river (Zero BOD) in western Uttar Pradesh, Yamuna of Delhi is a near-dead river and our mighty Ganga, despite its large carrying capacity, is a heavily-polluted river. The pollution of rivers has only made our worst fears come true and has shattered our lives in general and of farmers in particular. The impact of pollution and subsequent water crisis in Ganga on North-India can be measured from the sentence, "What is brain for human machine, Ganga is for Northern plains. When brain is dead, the patient is brain-dead."
Water crisis in India is also deeply entrenched because of our mindless and historical over-reliance on Monsoon, which comes at its own will and goes at its own, sometimes clicks and sometimes strikes, sometimes earlier and sometimes delayed. Though, it is veritably true that Monsoon has been the historical cornerstone of our agriculture but the absence, resulting out of reluctance of subsequent regimes, of any concrete game plan to mitigate the effects of the gaps and inadequacies in the monsoons has made Monsoon our weak point. Though there have been in place certain measures like Rashtriya Kisan Vikas Yojana and other subsidies in place to help the farmers but the zilch progress on setting the structure of the agriculture is the real grave problem. Present government's scheme Rashtriya Krishi Sinchaaye Yojana for irrigation to agriculture is a step in the right direction. Similarly "per drop more crop" is a positive step to ensure effective utilization of water. Sprinkler irrigation on a country-wide scale can also help.
Since water-crisis has a direct impact on us all in general and poor agriculturists in particular, it is imperative to keep the interests of the Indian farmers, largely having small landholdings, in mind, on the forefront. There is a project named National River Linking Project (NRLP), a pet project of the previous NDA government, which is being looked into a-new. From how it has been designed, one can say that it may provide some kind of succour to the regions which experience a deficient rainfall and no-temporary water crisis like Bundelkhand of UP and adjoining region of MP (where Sesame, Arhar, Soyabean etc are grown), Vidharbha of Maharashtra (Where Cotton and Sugarcane are Grown), arid and semi-arid regions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh like Tumkur, Bellary, Anantpur etc. It can be that our water unevenness gets somewhat solved by the project but the constraints raised by different environmental and policy groups are a barrier yet in thinking of the project as a panacea to every water-related problem that our country is confronted with.
Water-crisis is nowhere to go at least for the foreseeable future but it is within the realms of possibility to strive and then usher in the energy to moderate its effects. Judicious use of the resource, effective cycling and recycling of the used water and innovation in the water-delivery systems for agriculture have the potential to make our water-woes much less painful, if not fully painless.