Mayraj Fahim states that not doing research is a feature in the Indian Information Technology (IIT) sector today and this reflects a broader institutional problem.
In full agreement is Omar Ali, of the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (AsiaPeace). “Unfortunately, this is even truer of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The entire subcontinent is afflicted with corrupt bureaucrats, researchers who do no research and planners who don’t plan…”
“India has growing problems and the IITs have as a result basically failed the country,” continues Mayraj Fahim. “The biggest failure is the growing rural failure due to excessive extraction of groundwater and soil fertility loss due to intensive agriculture. The IITs should have already established and unveiled nationally water conservation and recycling techniques. With its huge population too much is at stake.”
He continues to say that the cities cannot bear the growing migration caused by rural failure. Their systems are outdated and not designed for this stress. He quotes statistics on Indian urbanization from a 2011 Census, where it is clear urbanisation has increased faster than expected. “My thought was why is this unexpected?”
Among the major states, Tamil Nadu continues to be ahead of the others, with levels of urbanisation at 48.4% in 2011. If any concerned Indian had heard what Indian water experts have been saying for ages they would know why this was the case. As a 2004 New Scientist article says, following an international water conference: “In some areas accessible groundwater supplies could be exhausted within the next five to 10 years.”
“This is already happening in the southern state of Tamil Nadu,” says Kuppannan Palanisami of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore. “A plunging water table means that only half as much land in the state can be irrigated compared with a decade ago.
Large-scale farmers with powerful pumps and deep wells still get good prices growing water-hungry crops like sugar cane and bananas, but 95 per cent of the wells owned by small farmers have dried up,” Palanisami says. “Some villages now stand empty.”
Meanwhile this is the soil problem: …”about 100 million hectares – or 70% – is heading down a path where it will be incapable of supporting farming.” This leads to people drifting to cities. This brings new arrivals into cities that strain India’s cities to breaking point.
This brings the matter back to the lack of proper research. Chat Mohan, a commentator on AsiaPeace says: “The success of IIT’s is mainly due to the strict selection process that allows only the very best and most brilliant students to gain admission. As far as research is concerned, not much top-class research and cutting edge technology work is being done in the IIT’s.
“Besides the IIT’s and a handful of top institutions, the vast majority of graduates from other Indian universities are very mediocre. In many of these mediocre institutions, merit is not a consideration in the admission process. Students with very poor high-school record are admitted based on reservations and/or large money “donations”. As a result, in the past two decades, a large number of engineers, doctors etc. of very low quality have been produced.”
However, additional commentator Chat Mohan adds his two-pennies worth saying: *”much work has been done in India by many experts on conservation methods and techniques. Many successful techniques have been implemented in arid regions of Gujarat and Rajastan, to name a few. Many cities now have water harvesting as a mandatory practice and as a result water tables have rebounded.*
*”When people talk of water scarcity, they forget that water availability in South Asia has been about the same for the past 100 years or more. Water shortage is felt due to the huge increase (about 5 times) in population over the past 100 years. As a result, the per capita water availability has decreased five fold.”*
Still. a lot needs to be done and this sector too is a fertile field for the India Against Corruption campaign proponents. Without proper research, government planners are at a loss as even with the best intentions they cannot quote a respected source when proposing a radical and unpopular but ne4cessary change in water or land use policy.