Earth is rich in resources. Ups and downs in human life depend on the knowledgeable ways in which the resources are used. Of all the resources, water is the most significant. The Tamil Poet Thiruvalluvar tells us that 'World cannot exist without water'. As we use a good amount of water in our day-to-day life, what do we think of this? How do we think?
For our ancestors, water was sacred. They believed and treated water better than their mothers. 'Do not abuse water, even if you do so your mother' is an old saying, manifesting this belief. But, in today's society, awareness of the importance of water and the need to manage it have been on the decline. In the circumstances of today, our needs are based on the prevalent economies. In satisfying these compelling needs, there emerge amongst us certain ideas which are alien to human nature. Hence, every one acts in accordance with the needs of the self and in the development interest of the self. The deeper meaning of life, values and uses are discarded and we act exclusively in the interest of economic gains that can be made. It is for this reason we are generally referred to as the ' homo economicus".
What is the relation between water and whatever is said above? As for water, there is a widespread 'economic thinking' amongst us. It is because the water is inexpensive and/or free. As such, there is a tendency amongst us to use it in the ways we think best or fit.
The world and the users value water inasmuch as it is an economic commodity that must be taken the best advantage of. We act in greed and in the interest of improving the economic well-being of the self / individuals. There is a selfish attitude in the use of available waters and with a lethargy that does not speak well of us. As such, the water is contaminated and is wasted by pollution. Consequently, the quantity and the quality of water have been declining fast.
Water is not just an economic commodity. It is our life. In the use of it, we must not act in the self interest, and with a narrow objective of satisfying the need of the self alone. We must safeguard the water resources in a way it will be useful for the posterity and others in a sustained manner. Its quality has to be protected. If we act keeping in view the twin focus of water quality protection and use by the generations of the future, then it would be in line with the sustainable use of the resource. It is in fact in this sense that water is considered the lifeblood of the earth.
Hence, in the use of the liquid named water, we should keep in mind the following:
(i) Water is valuable resource.
(ii) Although it is obtained inexpensively or as a free resource, it has high economic value.
(iii) In its use, there is no place for selfishness, greed and the narrowminded approach of 'self development'.
(iv) As it is increasingly becoming scarce, there is need for greater attention in its use.
(v) Water quality must be protected. The individuals and the people have an equal responsibility.
(vi) It is good to understand others- thinking and act in an integrated manner in the management of water resources.
It is therefore important that we act in the knowledge that water is a valuable and significant resource. It is in keeping with the ideas presented above that the three following lessons have been written under the broad title 'Water is Life'. In the first lesson we shall learn about the source, quantity and quality of water. In the second, we shall turn to understanding the implications of the scarcity and pollution. In the third, we shall focus on the water ethics and management.