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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere...

“Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink” is a line from the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” We are like that Ancient Mariner. But unlike the Mariner, we’re not stuck in the middle of the ocean with nothing but salty water. India’s water crisis is predominantly a manmade problem. India’s climate is not particularly dry, nor is it lacking in rivers and groundwater. Extremely poor management, unclear laws, government corruption, and industrial and human waste have caused this water supply crunch and rendered what water is available practically useless due to the huge quantity of pollution. The choices we make now on how to manage our fresh water resources will make the difference for the long-term health of India's water supply. A prosperous future depends on a secure and reliable water supply. And we don't have it. To be sure, water still flows from taps, but we're draining our reserves like gamblers at the craps table. The evidence is everywhere-though if it is noticed, it is forgotten with the next drenching rain.

No person will ever take water for granted after they've seen "One Water." The emotional impact of this film will transform "we didn't know" into a profound awareness of how precious clean drinking water is to all life, into a new appreciation of the seriousness of the world water crisis, into the stark reality of the daily struggle for clean water and survival. People just want clean water to drink. Is this too much to ask? Heightened awareness often follows a deep emotional experience. "One Water" with it's artful fusion of visual and sound "images," affects people in ways no evening news sound bite or newspaper article can hope to match. The film reaches deep into our psyches to reveal the common humanness that binds us together. Stunning images illustrate the contrast between abundance and scarcity. Water pumped many miles uphill at great expense powering the fountains of desert Las Vegas contrast with the image of women (and their children) trekking miles across their desert, fetching water, carrying their heavy burden on their heads back to their families, keeping them alive. Day after day, millions of women in the underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa repeat this life giving journey, walking an average of three or four miles every day for water.

Water in taps can't last forever. Water is already in short supply. Global warming is already causing unpredictable monsoons. We can no longer see water as a separate resource. We need to be careful about usage of water. Homes had a garden watered by a hand pump. Now gardens have sprinkler systems. It has made watering easy and water gets wasted. It led to going down of the water table and there is no water in the hand pumps now. At the Dharavi slums, you can see long queues for water. While this is happening, people in five star hotels take shower for half an hour. It's purely due to inequitable and unmindful usage of water. We have a situation where rich have water in swimming pools but farmers don't get water to irrigate their lands. With Paani, Shekhar Kapur, attempts to meaningfully intervene on this issue within the space of the celluloid. The acclaimed cinema-maker, remembered for his stunningly realistic Bandit Queen and poignantly innocent Masoom, returns to his craft through a futuristic discourse. Paani is his film in the making. Set in 2035, it portrays a dystopia when water is set to become a unicorn horn -- a non-existent and mythical commodity. How a society struggles as water disappears is the subject of Paani. Kapur narrates a scene, perhaps the most horrifying scene of the proposed movie, where thirsty mob attacks a car to steal water from its radiator.

Water nourishes our bodies and our souls. Our lives are impoverished without the sight, sound, smell, and touch of bubbling brooks, cascading waterfalls, and quiet ponds. The terrifying future depicted in science fiction doomsday novels conspicuously features barren landscapes. Our future needn't be so bleak. Our water crisis should occasion grave concern but not panic. We have solutions available; now we need a national commitment to pursue them. The time has come to address the impending threat of a water crisis which jeopardizes the existence of millions of people around the world. With changes in climatic conditions, and steadily declining rainfall in many areas, the time has come to get to the root cause of the problem and arrive at measures to address the problem. More than the issue of soaring food prices and the rapid depletion of the world's energy resources, it has been observed that a catastrophic water shortage could prove the biggest threat to mankind in coming years. If we value our own futures on this planet, we should sit up and take notice of the many ways we can conserve water and live in a way that does not pose a danger to the delicate natural climatic processes of the earth. We are spoiled. We turn on the tap and out comes a limitless amount of high quality water for less money than we pay for cell phone service or cable television. Because water is so cheap, people don't value it. Yes, conservation must be a major part of the solution.


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