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If There is No Human Intervention, Nature Can Take Care Of Itself: ‘Waterman of India’, Dr Rajendra Singh

At the BW Sustainability Dialogue, Integrating Sustainability with Business’ the Waterman of India emphasised the need to create employment for migrant workers in their home villages to avoid the kind of crisis that arose with the Covid-19 induced lockdown

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Popularly known as the Waterman of India, Dr Rajendra Singh has, throughout his life, transformed the lives of lakhs of people in Rajasthan, defying all odds. Dr Singh began his career in the field of medicine, but changed course after witnessing the dire situation of villagers in Rajasthan. For his dedicated work in the field of water conservation, Dr Singh has won prestigious awards like the Magsaysay Award in 2001 and the Stockholm Water Prize in 2015. 

The Waterman of India said, “Two things have become very clear amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, first and foremost is that India is a country of villages. (This was clear) during the pandemic when people who had gone to the cities for jobs, migrated back to the safety of their villages. The second thing we have to understand is – if there is no human intervention, Nature can take care of itself.” 

The environmentalist has worked for more than 21 years to protect the green cover, revive water levels in water bodies and to improve the fertility of arid lands across India. He has helped build 8,000 water tanks in over 1,000 villages in the arid state of Rajasthan. Some parts of Rajasthan that were once completely barren, now have a good forest cover and wildlife too. 

“If we want to save our country’s future, we cannot do it by ignoring the future of our villages. We have to make our villages self-reliant. People should not be forced to go look for work in urban areas due to lack of work in the rural areas,” Dr Singh said. Through his organisation, Tarun Bharat Sangh, he has revived thousands of water bodies in Rajasthan ‒ a   state with the highest water stress in the country.

Rajendra Singh spoke passionately about migrant workers heading back home to their villages during the pandemic. “For all the people going back to their villages during this time, we need to create jobs and work for them in the villages. We need to create small and medium industries in the villages. The industries need to be based on community and co-operative structure,” he said. “I know its difficult,” Dr Singh admitted, adding, “but it’s not impossible, I have done this in some villages.”