Like farmer suicides the news every year about droughts, increasing summer temperatures and water scarcities is worrying and scary. One would not want one’s countrymen to be exposed to such trauma. And yet, there is precious little in terms of a organised, meaningful, at-scale response.
This is a nasty problem in that working on it is thankless - involves being out in the pitiless sun. The better a job you want to do, or the more you want to engage with the problem, the more time you spend in the sun. In that respect its like my old haunt of sanitation and it probably contributes to why the problem doesn’t get addressed effectively.
It seems to me, we need a good national monitoring system that can tell us the scale of the problem and whether it is getting better or worse. Beyond the media articles, which paint a pretty scary picture, I don't know quantitatively how bad the problem is and whether it is getting worse.
It seems to me, the basic approach to a solution should be a multi-year plan by each state with clear measurable outcomes. The outcomes would include things like a ‘drought-proofed’ condition, and the ability of the state to respond in a rapid, proportionate and effective way to a drought. However, Governments in India think too short-term and too political - its hard for them to have the patience to set up and follow through on a multi-year response. Perhaps the solution then is a ‘policy entrepreneur’ who can sell long-term and sustainable drought proofing to the government.
Another source of the problem is the lack of voice of those most affected, like small-farmers. The solution might be for people with the required knowledge and policy experience to work with farmers organisations and labour unions of landless labourers to raise the demand for real solutions.
What can ‘common people’ like you and me do ? Donate to a good organisation working on the problem. Visit a drought-affected area to educate yourself. Realise that the challenges of national development are so large that insulating yourself from them is not an option if you want to live in a decent humane society
And, plant trees.
Some recent articles in the media: