Water scarcity to become major issue in water-stressed India says CRISIL

Over the past 60 years, the annual per capita water availability in India has fallen 70% to 1544 cubic meter from 5177 cubic meter in 1951 and is expected to further fall to 1,140 cubic meter in 2050

The alarm on the continued availability of sufficient water to all consumers in India, both corporate and domestic, over the years has sounded. The per capita water availability in India, which is currently at 1,544 cubic meters in 2011 vis-à-vis the international benchmark 1,700 cubic meters, is projected to further shrink to 1,140 cubic meters by 2050, said CRISIL in a research report.

India’s population has increased from 361 million in 1951 to 1.21 billion in 2011. The number of cities with population of over 1 million has increased from 12 in 1981 and 23 in 1991 to 35 in 2001. Therefore, the per capita availability of water in the country as a whole has plummeted from 5,177 cubic meter per annum in 1951 to 1,544 cubic meter per annum in 2011, a drastic reduction of 70% in 60 years. With the per capita availability of water falling below 1,700 cubic meters, India has already acquired the unfortunate status of a ‘water-stressed’ nation. The situation is expected to deteriorate further as per capita water availability is expected to decline further to 1,342 and 1,140 cubic meters per annum by 2025 and 2050, respectively, the report said.  

Water is a resource that Indians have been able to take for granted until now. But that is no longer the case. Water, which is an integral part of the production process in many industries, has emerged as an issue that could have serious consequences for direct operations of a company, and its supply chains, brand reputation, and therefore, on growth opportunities and profit.

According to the report, growing scarcity and pollution of water, coupled with challenges arising out of climate change could pose serious risks to industrial and business operations in India. Given the likely impact of these risks on companies' financial performance, SEBI has made it mandatory for top 100 listed companies in terms of market capitalisation to submit Business Responsibility Reports (BRR), as a part of their annual reports. So far, only 39 Indian companies have released sustainability reports in adherence to the global reporting initiative.

Mukesh Agarwal, senior director, CRISIL Research, said, "Most companies continue to have a cavalier approach towards use of water and waste water discharge and consequently, have been forced to face physical, regulatory and reputational damages. This has often led to significant impact on the financial performance, and in select cases, companies have even had to shift or shut down their business operations. Indian companies must therefore manage their water usage and discharge in a responsible and sustainable manner."

Statistics from the report indicates that India has already acquired the status of a water-stressed nation. CRISIL Research conducted a comprehensive assessment of water disclosure practices of 500 publicly held companies in India. The study revealed that in 2010, only 30% of companies reported that they have company-level water policy for prudent management of water usage. Similarly, 22% of companies reported that they have policies to manage wastewater discharge. Only 3.3% of companies disclosed information on total quantity of water used and merely 1.5% reported the source from where water used is drawn. The study pointed out that sectors such as energy, materials and utilities are more proactive in disclosing information on wastewater discharge.

"Every company must adopt a comprehensive strategy to reduce water-related business risks as part of its overall risk management practices. Monitoring of water usage/waste water discharge, through proper accounting and reporting to the stakeholders/general public, must form the core of such a strategy and would be central to sustainable growth," said Sunil Sinha, head and senior economist, CRISIL.

CRISIL said water stewardship demonstrated by few Indian companies like ITC and Tata Motors need to be emulated by others to contain water related business risks. ITC trains and empowers farmers in watershed management. ITC has assisted farming communities in 22 districts across 7 states of India.

Tata Motors' first step was to create a perennial source of water by constructing a 350-metre-long stone dam to contain rainwater that came in through the natural watercourses within the perimeter. Building just one lake was not enough, so Tata Motors built more and today, there are six ponds and lakes, which are fed by rainwater and treated effluence of the factory. These lakes have become an extension of the effluent treatment plants (ETP), with the treated wastewater being retained by two ponds and two lakes, while allowing the excess to overflow from one water body to the next. As a result of this progressive biological oxidation, the quality of the treated effluence is far superior to the quality of the receiving water body into which it flows. The once arid scrubland with cupfuls of quickly evaporating rainwater has now become home to broods of birds and aquatic creatures, the report said.

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    COMMENTS

    pinakin mamtora

    9 years ago

    The future wars may well be fought over water. May I request Team MoneyLife and all ML readers to please suggest names of companies who will stand to gain from the ensuing water shortage in India: water-treatment/conservation/consultancy/infrastucture & all other water-related companies may well be the multibaggers of this decade. May be ML can do a in-depth (well, that's a given with ML!) cover story on this unique futuristic investment theme of this Century. My mouth is already 'watering' at the prospects!

    REPLY

    AB

    In Reply to pinakin mamtora 8 years ago

    Yes, the 3rd World War is likely to be over water.

    Is Metro Rail not the answer for India’s urban transportation ?

     For four times the distance and costs less than one-fifth and the fact that there are other amenities the government/municipality needs to finance, it is quite straight forward answer to the question “Is Metro Rail not the answer for India’s urban transportation

    “India is urbanizing rapidly”, a phrase we have been hearing for some time. What does that mean in reality? It means people with low levels of civic amenities they were accustomed to in rural settings have to cope up with overloaded higher level civic amenities in urban settings. Although there are several kinds of civic amenities and services that provide better quality of life in rural settings from fulfilment of basic necessities, the aspirations of human intellect and avenues to reach them is available in urban setting. Urban setting also ensures certainty of livelihood for which people move over to urban areas from rural settings.

    India has two cities with population more than 10 million (one crore) now termed as mega cities. In fact we must talk of urban agglomerates (UAs) and we have in India three UAs. There are four other UAs with population more than 4 million (40 lakh) called metro cities. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad are all 40 lakh plus cities, with Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata termed as mega cities. Pune is on the verge of becoming a metro city. There are several cities, almost touching 35 in number, which are a million plus. There are six UAs holding between 2 million and 4 million people.

    Although travel for socializing and entertainment do exist, daily travelling or commuting to work and livelihood forms the main travel load in our cities. With physical spread along with growth in population in these cities, average travel distances do keep increasing. Commensurate with earnings of citizens of a particular city, there is a land use pattern that evolves organically to enable poorer sections to walk or cycle to work and the not-so-poor to take to motorized two wheelers (M2Ws) or public transport. Only the affluent own and use motor cars. Ordinarily, the million plus cities have 20% to 30% of its population using bicycles. M2W user and motor car user proportion is also not very small in these four million less cities because these cities do not have any public transport worth the name, or not at all, and the distances travelled daily are not unaffordable.

    Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation since 1992, no doubt has resulted in growing gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita incomes, but so has inflation in recent years not remained low either.

    With growing urban sprawl, it may appear that the average travel distances would keep increasing. But the reality is non-availability of affordable housing to poorer sections of society whereby the growth of slums have taken place. Mumbai’s slum population hovers around 55% and Bengaluru’s is growing from 8% in 2001 census to about 30% in 2011 census. Transportation, too, needs to be affordable financially as well as from travel time point of view.

    The ideal situation is mixed land use, but keeping hazardous and polluting industries and activities segregated from residential and commercial areas. Residential areas, too, must have adequate proportion of accommodation for the poor who serve the affluent in different ways. Most situations of Indian cities have this characteristic. This makes reasonably short average travel distances for commuting.

    Take the case of Mumbai where 57% of its population lives within 3 km from their place of work; 69% within 5 km; 81% within 10 km and 89% within 15 km. There is another statistics that matches with this. 44% of people in Mumbai go to work by foot, without using any motorised or non-motorised modes. 3.1% using bicycles out number 2.8% using motor cars. 22% use the suburban railway and 16% use the road public transport. About 3.5% use the intermediate transport such as auto-rickshaws and taxis, leaving 8.5% who use motorised two wheelers.

    All over India, the population of M2Ws is increasing at a phenomenal rate due to its operating competitiveness from economy and convenience point of view in comparison to the road public transport. With growing income levels and inadequate public transport, even the motor car population and usage is on the rapid rise mode.

    To counter the trend as this growth of personal vehicle usage will lead to considerable air and noise pollution, the National Urban Transport Policy gives directive to improve public transport. But the aspirations of people are whetted by sleek marketing and attractive financial packages for motorised vehicles. Similarly, the aspirations of cities have been raised to wanting to proudly boast of having a Metro Rail and Monorail. Are such whetting good for the cities is the question. Let us look at the Metro Rail.

    With about 20% of Metro lines underground, the average cost of Metro per kilometre is being stated to be Rs250 crore while it works out to more than Rs400 cr/km in Mumbai. If we consider that every 40 million plus city in India is having an aspiration of having a Metro Rail, that each city is about 25 x 25 kilometre, each of these metro cities will have about 50 km of Metro Rail. This would mean total length of Metro Rail will come to about 50 x 4 = 200 km. At an average cost of Rs250 cr/km, the total sum these four metro cities will come to Rs50,000 crore. Nearly 350 km of Delhi Metro, 150 km of Mumbai Metro and 300 km of Metro Rail in Mumbai Metropolitan region and similarly 150 km in Kolkata will bring the investment to the tune of Rs3,25,000 crore.

    Unfortunately, for the Metro Rail line to be able to attract commuters commensurate with its carrying capacity, especially to be utilized to justify such high investment, one will have to provide a network of feeder road public transport services or intermediate public transport services and car parking spaces. If that be the case, what tangible benefits would the Metro Rail provide that a Bus Rapid Transit System cannot, is the question one would like to have an answer to? A BRTS will cost up to Rs15 cr/km and can provide capacities high enough not to be considered just a provider of feeder service to Metro Rail but be a competing transportation mode on its own right. Since cities comprise properties and accesses i.e. land and road network, it is a natural corollary to have buses run on them with priority to enable large number of people to cover larger distances; for medium distances bicycles and for short distances, walking as modes of mobility. Running buses with priority means a system of Bus Rapid Transit. Thus, even if we provide not 1,150 km in 2 million plus UAs but say 4,600 km of BRTS in all these 2 million plus UAs, it would cost just about Rs60,000 crore as against 1,150 km of Metro Rail’s Rs3,25,000 crore. And what do we get for this? We get four times the length of a bus service as that of Metro Rail length, in a way covering much larger area and there by serve larger number of people, at costs one-fifth of Metro Rail costs.

    When cities get good mobility, there is bound to be economic growth. If city gets into a ‘jam’ over a long period, can there be any significant economic growth and thereby improvement in quality of life?

    And let us not forget that with Metro Rail projects moving at super-snail’s pace, as we see it happening in Mumbai and Bengaluru, all that we will be dong is keep pouring money and not get any relief. Let us also realise that while India is rapidly getting urbanized, it is happening in Tier II and Tier III cities. The Government of India is seriously planning to put up a Metro Rail network in cities with more than 20 lakh (2 million plus) population. This will only raise the aspirations of these cities on the wrong track, achieve nothing for their majority inhabitants. The investment is enormous and it will be possible only at the cost of adding to the misery of rest of India.

    While we have confined arguments to transportation and specifically Metro Rail, a city has to provide amenities and services such as water supply, sewage disposal, walkable footpaths, non-motorised vehicle lanes, medical infrastructure, education, playgrounds, gardens, recreation grounds, fire-fighting, public health and what have you. When large sums get spent on transportation sector, where from does one generate funds for the other amenities and services? 

     

    Does the question “Is Metro Rail not the answer for India’s Urban Transportation?” find an answer above?

    (Sudhir Badami is a Civil Engineer and Transportation Analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). While he has been an active campaigner against Noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at [email protected])
     

     

     

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    COMMENTS

    Sudhir Badami

    9 years ago

    In response to 17 Comments here and about 11 on the facebook, I continued with the topic in the Part II which can be read at http://moneylife.in/article/is-metro-rai...

    I feel that I have addressed each and every comment directly or through answers to some other comment or the other. If it is felt that I have not addressed any specific argument placed in some of the comments, please reiterate them.

    Bharat Singh

    9 years ago

    You have pointed out the true issue of Urban India. It's addressing the walkability of urban India that is more crucial than HCMT. Cities need a holistic approach to urban development, i.e. the integration of transportation, land use and urban design policies to smoothly integrate all modes of travel. This way any investment in transit be it Metro, BRT, local bus or walking, there is a direct connection to the destination desired. Land use and urban design also plays a big role in encouraging non vehicular modes of travel. What is the point of putting a metro station in a location where accessing it is an issue (The IP estate station in Delhi is case in point).

    Mayuresh

    9 years ago


    Dear Sir,

    The article provides very interesting data points.
    ..i am just wondering what could be the reason for this (Stats for Mumbai)...mainly 57% population living within 3 km from their workplace & 44% people going to work by foot ...
    is it that the data includes population working in unorganised sector, contract labor, people working in small industries, self employed people running own shops or small establishments? and this segment comprises of the 57% & 44% ....
    also if you could share the year for which the data pertains & the source of the data ...

    Regards,
    Mayuresh

    Atif Hussain

    9 years ago

    Great diagnosis, with right research.

    very true conclusions.

    Conceptually, the most critical aspect of transport within city is last mile connectivity, which unfortunately, metro rail/etc do not serve. Look at China - it is investing huge in rail, but for inter-city only. Also investing in alternate transportation, is much more costlier than strengthening existing transport backbone; and less useful, as both still have to run on the scarce urban landscape.

    The author graduated from IIM Bangalore, with focus in public policy.
    Lived in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi.

    A Rajaraman

    9 years ago

    Dear Sri Badami,

    I have read your article on the subject (and noticed that the corrected map has been put) and fully agree with you. Your article not surprisingly is well researched your being in so many high level committee and in a position to effect a policy decision.

    Metros is a high cost option for maybe low density rich countries. India being generously populated country we should have a low cost sustainable transport system such as BRTS with short distances being covered from the bus stops to work/living places by share auto/shuttle buses. It will also generate self employment avenues for the local population.

    I have another idea which I want you to ponder on and maybe impress upon the powers. Practically all our cites have overgrown its limits and any amount of facilities cannot sustain the population. India has vast land stretches of waste lands sparsely populated. With the estimated Rs 325000 crores can’t we build new towns with proper infrastructure taking care for housing for poor and migrants, in these land and convert it into prosperous areas. Only water has to transported to these areas through pipes. Even Bengaluroo in 70’s with much lesser population was crying for water and various Kavery water schemes were floated, now we do not hear of any water scarcity in Bengaluroo despite the huge increase in the size and population of the city. These towns should be away from major cities as the earlier scheme of making satellite cities have practically failed as people of satellite cities travel into the major cities for job, education and businesses. These town should not have big plots but functional clusters of houses and industrial/commercial areas so that they can be well connected with public transport or even cycle rickshaws right from the beginning.

    Regards

    Yours faithfully,

    A.Rajaraman
    Mumbai

    K B Patil

    9 years ago

    A thoroughly interesting article and from the comments, one can see that readers are very involved in this matter. My opinion is that BRT is feasible if only the roads are sufficiently wide as in Lutyen's Delhi. Bangalore, the city where I grew up, does not have wide enough roads and so, public opinion will be strongly against BRT. Right now, the people of Bangalore are proud of their metro and happy to use it. The only drawback is the high cost and the slow progress.

    a v moorthi besides TIHAR

    9 years ago

    not many know that today about 20 lakh user trips take place daily in Delhi Metro when it is 10 years since the first train was on rails and today it covers over 100 kms thro 7 routes which criss cross across at least thro one or more routes so in a way all 7 routes are inter connected. another important point was the first route was laid in what is generally recalled as Yamuna paar - the resettlement colony plannede by Sanjay Gandhi where the poor were shifted during emergency so that they got stay in pucca houses instead of slums where they used to live. once that route operational rest of Delhi yearned for such a facility and confident DMRC will deliver and courts didnot grant any stay when private property were acquired by DMRC because DMRC settled compensation in a transparemt manner. stations like chawri bazar is an example of what our engineers are capable of doing when they have access to latest tools for diging tunnels. stations in dwaraka section numbering over 10 are show case stations . yes resources for Metro can be raised by using space adjacent to Metro station . additionally savings in commuting time, oil bill for nation , clean environment etc are enormous and in valuable

    REPLY

    A Rajaraman

    In Reply to a v moorthi besides TIHAR 9 years ago

    Is Delhi Metro self sustaining?

    PPM

    9 years ago

    THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY. Indian politicians and officials never bothered about the welfare of the people, becasue Indians are submissive and selfish - ready to bribe to get things done - never raise their voice even.

    Ganesh Krishnan

    9 years ago

    In Mumbai, we now have an excellent network of flyovers connecting, Thane, Borivili and Navi Mumbai to SOBO. These flyovers have not solved the problem of traffic which still moves at a snail's pace. My suggestion is that we should convert the flyovers into BRTS and allow the other traffic in the roads below. The advantage is that we can get BRTS at no additional cost and once it becomes operative, there is no incentive for private cars to be on the roads.

    Sudhir Badami

    9 years ago

    Looks like I am getting plenty to explain about BRTS for Mumbai. I will await some more independent questions and then address each one. I would appreciate if the person mentions which city s/he lives in.

    The issue is not just of Transportation that the government/municipal corporations have to take care of and although money is not such a rare commodity, but when it comes to other amenities, the quantum of money getting 'eaten away' by the Metro renders it near impossible to complete.

    malq

    9 years ago

    Badami ji, with specific reference to Mumbai and in context with your article, may I add some ground realities please?

    1) Where is the space on Mumbai's existing roads to provide for a BRTS system which will have bus lanes, non-bus lanes, cycle lanes and pedestrian paths - in addition to proper bus stops?

    2) The present dispensation in Mumbai does not even have the will to provide bus connections for intermodal exchanges between airports and the rest of the city. That's a reality.

    3) Where will all these buses be parked, please, especially if they also need overnight parking bays in the city area, South Mumbai - and what are the options for a separate bus service in competition to BEST running on the same routes (like Delhi's cluster bus services).

    4) The cost of fuel as well as manpower for a larger number of buses versus the cost of power and manpower for running trains on metro rail lines.

    5) The largest issue of pollution due to emissions is not addressed, and needs be factored in, too.

    As far as the main plank of your arguments on investments are concerned, the big issue here is that it takes one honest man to head an organisation where the larger issue is not just the investment and financial closure, but also a solid rock strong control on misuse of that investment. That would be easier, given the nature of the legislations already in position for passenger transport over rail than similar over road on motor vehicles.

    Humbly submitted, but 2 million direct beneficiaries in Delhi as well as many more who benefit indirectly, would place the social benefits way above any other parameter.

    Regards/VM

    4)

    REPLY

    Jim

    In Reply to malq 9 years ago

    I agree with Veeresh Sir. I am from Ahmedabad where the much touted BRTS is running "successfully". Let me put forth both the sides of the coin. On the plus side is the fact that since BRTS runs on dedicated corridor the distance and time factor has benefits. It has put A'bad on international platform. It has come as a huge relief to thousands of office goers upto the middle and senior executive level, who have started tavelling in brts leaving behind their scooters, bikes and car. Partly thanks to the rising costs of fuel and CNG. Also a boon to college students. Now the minus side of arguments. Anybody who has travelled in BRTS would have experienced the rash driving, the sudden pick up. I have seen so many passengers fall inside the bus when it picks up speed after leaving each terminus. This is mainly because the special corridors are empty and the buses become dangerous fast machines in the hands of young BRTS drivers. The BRTS corridors are built by expanding the existing roads. But there is a limit to which the exising roads can be expanded. So what happens is traffic chaos, long queues of traffic, honking and impatience on the narrow roads just beside the wide empty BRTS corridor. My idea of building infrastructure is "creating" infrastructure and not overcrowding the existng infrastructure. With BRTS you are creating chaos, unruly traffic mess, space mismanagement while building Metro means creating a whole new world underneath your feet. With world class engineering and political will we can create a new system of Metro trains, platforms, stations, shopping areas etc. That means that people would have the option of travelling by Metro, local trains, buses or taxis , as they wish or afford.

    Haris

    9 years ago

    This is one of the most ignorant articles I've read in a decade.

    If you still cannot recognize the fact that Delhi Metro will breakeven on the basis of green credits alone by 2013 (approx. in a decade of its existence), there is no helping this author.

    The metro is the ONLY solution to megacities transport problems. Forget about the economic rate of return, I am talking strictly on the basis of social costs recovery alone. It is taking about a decade to breakeven on metro on all cities so far planned.

    The economic returns are only an additional advantage that havent even been discussed yet.

    The writer is one of the dumbest people I've had to come across in the history of humankind, including Darwin's humankind.

    surajit som

    9 years ago

    it is well known that wherever metro goes ,land price shoots up. i know because i am a beneficiary of delhi metro. i live in dwarka ,delhi. there are tens of thousands like me. why dont we develop land and then sell to finance metro ,at least in part ? roads ,railways in america were built that way.

    secondly out megacities are mega dense. where is the land to make roads ? can we blow up buildings and make roads ? probably not. there will be millions of new court cases and not even one km of road will be made.

    what about the comparative cost of maintenance of metro and road? what about the ecological benefits of metro? what about the cost of traffic jam and pollution?

    let us remember that we could have built thousands of kilometres of metro with the money we lost in CWG ,2G scam etc.

    let us not make metro the whipping boy. delhi would come to a standstill without metro.



    Jeevan Balwant

    9 years ago

    Metro Rail project is an ill-conceived idea at this stage of infrastructural development in Mumbai.
    Andheri-Kurla road is a classic example of the mess that metro rail project has created since the past 2 years.
    The govt is planning a world class metro rail but it is not concerned about improving the road below. Andheri-Kurla road has become very dangerous due to constant digging, wrongful parking of vehicles, piling up of debris, uneven paver blocks, huge craters, blind diversions and mismanaged traffic.
    Mumbai desperately needs smooth roads, proper lane demarcations, systematic parking slots, broader footpaths sans illegal stalls and squatters, visible road signs and comfortable BEST bus-stops and marked Auto/taxi stands.


    Arun Iyer

    9 years ago

    "Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad are all 40 million plus cities, with Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata termed as mega cities."

    40 million plus cities! Wow!
    Where do you get such enviable information from?

    REPLY

    Sudhir Badami

    In Reply to Arun Iyer 9 years ago

    Apologies, should have been 40 lacs or 4 million.

    Schools of the future

     The future of the world depends on a new change in schooling system, thus ushering in an era of sharing, caring and universal compassion—the true religion for the masses

    "The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” -- Rabindranath Tagore

    Life is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ceaseless change till death. “Anything that does not change does not come under the definition of science” wrote a federal judge in the US while delivering his judgment in a dispute between the Creationists and Scientists. Human life history is the story of the evolution of this Universe itself. If one wants to understand the nature of Nature one has just got to understand human nature which is a miniscule of this universe itself. We are obsessed with science today. The word science brings goose-pimples on many of us. Indian schools do not seem to have changed ever since the East India Company destroyed our ancient school system some time in the early 19th century. There have, of course, been some cosmetic changes in that schools today have become big corporate businesses and they have also got a bit of American flavor. However, the philosophy of feeding the young creative minds with useless dead information seems to be our goal. Rote learning for getting grades is the order of the day. Grades should make wealthy careers at the end of the day is the philosophy accepted by the greedy parents as also the powers that be in the educational system, and some of the powerful industrial honchos who see nothing wrong in education being a big business.

    The vital part of education, which is to try and make healthy minds, is all but lost in this milieu. Our education, especially the primary one, which matters a lot, is, therefore, unscientific by definition, as it has not changed. The aforementioned federal judge would have declared our educational system as a religion, which I think it is slowly becoming by Karl Marx’s opinion that a religion is the “opium of the people”. The actual complete quote from 1843-44 Karl Marx’s book Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is more nuanced, though. Marx did not ridicule religion by this statement; rather he thought that religion is an extension of his own thinking. He goes on to say that: “To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions”. That was in a way Marx’s own opium in one sentence since the “human essence has not acquired any true reality”. Yet instead of the crude opium reference there is that beautifully poetic conclusion “of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo”. To call upon our present school system bosses to change would be exactly like what Marx felt about asking for change in his times. Spirituality—sharing and caring—is not only the essence of all religions but also the ageless wisdom of man, which has very little to do with ritualistic religions.

    Science today tells us that the world began with the Big Bang. I wonder if there was a big bang or a small whimper! For 750 million long years, they say, that there was no life on earth. The first life came as a single cell which could do all that you and I can do today-breathe, eat, excrete, think, and work. That stage went on for more than a trillion and half years when these single cell individuals wisely thought that it is better to get together as a colony to work more efficiently with least expense. They had a fertile brain in their cell wall (membrane), called the memBrain by a famous cell biologist, Bruce Lipton. They could sense their environment through antennae in their cell walls, their brain, called Integral Membrane Proteins (IMPs). These could make the cells come alive to the environment (universal consciousness) to have own their individual consciousness. Figuratively life gets born then like your actors on the TV screen. When that antenna does not get the message (when you switch off your TV) life ebbs out just as the TV actor dies when the switch goes off. The consciousness gets into, may be another cell immediately after that- life again. So death is only a part of life and not its end! Thus the human body is a happy colony of 50 trillion individual cells.

    Why did the single free-floating cells come together then? They, in their wisdom, realized that they are better off and stronger if they came together in larger groups as they could expand their individual consciousnesses many fold by increasing the IMPs exponentially! How wise of them? As time passed they realised that each one of them need not do all the work that needs to be done. They could share their responsibilities. Some cell groups inside the body became what we call today organs doing specific tasks more efficiently. But they did not lose sight of the fact that they were all functionally identical even when they morphologically different to fit that organ e.g. brain looking after overseeing the total function of locomotion, etc. In this new role they found that they could care for others better. Thus evolved the philosophy of spirituality—sharing and caring! Body cells therefore love one another. This could be seen under the electron-microscope in disease conditions. In a fresh fracture site the red blood cells in the clot could gradually change to pluri-potent stem cells to heal the fracture eventually! Same cells but different work. These endogenous stem cells are our best doctors in all disease states.

    Education, therefore, should teach the young mind that it is in sharing and caring that the world can go on for good. Our grading system, on the contrary, puts negative thoughts of greed, hatred, jealousy, anger and pride into that innocent, creative, loving, and compassionate mind of a child. Scientific studies have shown that if students in a class with varied levels of intelligence could be taught the principles of collective compassionate sharing efforts they all get high grades in the final examination! This is conducive to good health as well since body cells enjoy working together, anyway. Health is defined today as “enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate.” Those who do not have either or both of those are really sick! In that definition society as a whole is becoming sick today with no compassion. Recent noise about “Wall Street” greed is but a sign of that universal sickness that is overtaking our present society; rather it is the corporate greed that would eventually destroy all God-given resources of nature. The root cause for this disease is the wrong type of primary education that turns a universally compassionate, creative, God-like child into a greedy, angry, proud man/woman who joins the rat race to acquire money, power and parking lots! The future of the world depends on a new change in schooling system, thus ushering in an era of sharing, caring and universal compassion—the true religion for the masses. 

        “Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life-building, man-making and character-making assimilation of ideas.” -- Swami Vivekananda.

    (Professor Dr BM Hegde was awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2010. Prof Dr Hegde has a string of degrees to his credit like MD, PhD, FRCP (Lond, Edin, Glasg, & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected]

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    pravin

    9 years ago

    give me a break professor.enough of the preaching.india needs entrepreneurs and not silly indoctrination centres.parents,families are responsible for the values -sharing ,compassion etc.if the school fellows could simply concentrate on the simple matter of teaching math,science and language,it would be better.anyway,you'll all be eradicated by free teaching on the internet.
    as far as rishi valley types are concerned,i've a couple of friends who graduated from it.impractical girls with no knowledge or ambition to succeed.mooching off papa's money to study literature and art history.we dont want such citizens .we want doers.

    Nikki

    9 years ago

    Dear Proffessor

    Would you agree that to give root and wings to young boys they need to be fearless and conquerors since the ruthlessness of today's world confuses kindness with weakness ?
    Basically Nehruvian tug of war with Keynesian values creating a breed of cannibalistic vegetarians a dichotomy in every days actions and reactions...
    Schools like Doons or cathedral maintain great character building alas not affordable for the common mortals the divide begins there with the purse

    Narendra Doshi

    9 years ago

    Dear Prof Hegde,
    Can you please give details of any such schools, existing in Mumbai or even near equivalents?
    At what age do you feel the child should join such a school?

    REPLY

    BM Hegde

    In Reply to Narendra Doshi 9 years ago

    Rishi Valley in Bangalore might come close to it.
    I think a child should not go to school till at least six years to enjoy the real childhood. The real education happens at home. The environment is the best teacher

    Narendra Doshi

    In Reply to BM Hegde 9 years ago

    Shri Hegde,
    Tks for your comments.
    1 Pl provide homepage of Rishi Valley, Bangalore.
    2 What is your guidance for preschool/primary school girls?
    3 What is the preference of order: SSC/CBSE/ICSE/IGCSE/IB/NIOS especially for Mumbai settled parents?
    4 At what girl child age and which schools in Mumbai would you recommend?

    BM hegde

    In Reply to Narendra Doshi 9 years ago

    I dont know Bombay schools. If there is any Amarithavidyalaya try that.
    Girls will be much better off there.
    CBSC is good as one could try and get fighter chances anywhere in India.

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