amir khanDid you watch Aamir Khan in ‘Satyamev Jayate, on water, yesterday? Going by the smses I got telling me to watch it, I think many of you did ! Did you like it ?

I did. Reminded me a bit of a Dire Straits track… Constant base guitar that gets deep into the heart, nimble lead that runs through every part of the brain and a voice that spells,’ I’m here – Why worry now’?

The program was complete – the right mix of head and heart. It had film clips and activists who focussed attention on what was wrong with the existing systems. There were harassed users – from posh colonies, slums and villages – showing that no one was spared the suffering. The violent conflicts caused by Water – never before have they been shown so openly, so starkly! It showed ordinary people as the real heroes and then made a hero(ine) out of a bureaucrat and politician who, with a single order, transformed sporadic individual effort into a societal march. Best of all, it had light banter and a constant connect with religion and traditional practices.

For me, there were 3 defining moments in the program. The first -in a clip, a woman from a village near a dam supplying water to Mumbai, said – “We gave our land, our homes for the dam , yet we walk 4 km for water everyday – does only Mumbai need water – don’t we need it too?. This statement sums up the rural-urban, micro-macro conflict in water.

The second – my favourite – was a young architecture student from Mumbai being asked by Aamir – “Where do we get water from?” Her prompt reply – “From a tap”. Three words that tell the entire story of our disconnect with water – the reason for this crisis.

The third was a statement by activist Anupam Mishra – “We need to re-learn to Respect water

Water Watching the program was like a collage of snapshots from my journey at FORCE. Each picture, each expression, each message, found an echo in some moment at FORCE….and our core philosophy….

Its not about playing blame games nor resigning yourself to your ‘fate’. Its neither about living in the past nor rejecting it totally. Its not about one person doing it all, nor about leaving everything for the state to do.

It starts with faith – knowing that a plant lover in Delhi will feel the agony of a farmer who sees his crop die of thirst. Its about individual effort – doing whatever little we can- and playing our right role in collective effort – by government or others. Its about marrying traditional wisdom with modern reality. About ‘Vasudevaya Kutumbukum’ – we are all part of God’s family and so must take care of each other. Its about honouring citizens and leaders who give shape to hope. Most of all – it is about remembering to ‘Respect’ water.

FORCE follows a P-4 partnership model that brings together communities, experts, government and implementers for result oriented action at every level. Where we cannot act directly, we try and create an opportunty for others to do it. Traditional ceremonies, prayers and sharing Water’s wisdom, are built into even the brick and mortar work we do. Our heroes are our ‘Jal Rakshaks’ and we create platforms to publicly acknowledge their effort. Through our ‘Blue City’ program we work to make cities self sufficient in water, hoping that then perhaps, the village woman will be spared her daily trek for water. We do our bit and then share it with government, for scaling up or as an input for Water Policies.

A lot like what this Satyamev Jayate suggested…..

“Hey Aamir – hamaare thoughts kitne milte hain! Chalo mil kar sab ko paani paani kar dein (pun intended)!”

….Thank you Aamir Khan, for a great program…..

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