13 Jan 2018 21:55 IST

IITs and IIMs can help build the bridge between community and corporate: Rajendra Singh

The water conservationist said India Inc. plays an important role in promoting sustainable development

Growing ‘thirsty’ crops — such as sugarcane and paddy — in areas with scanty rain, will not only lead to depletion of underground water but will also add to the woes of farmers.

According to Rajendra Singh, the water conservationist from Rajasthan, farmers driven by wanting to make a profit end up sowing crops which may not be really viable in terms of the pattern and distribution of rainfall in the state.

Drawing attention to an increasingly large number of farmers in Maharashtra growing sugarcane, and those in Punjab and Haryana sowing paddy just to fetch more money, he said “such unsustainable agricultural practices will eventually lead to farm distress.”

“The pattern of rainfall in Punjab and Haryana does not support paddy cultivation; neither is Maharashtra suited for growing sugarcane. Farmers engaged in such practices are bringing about ecological disaster,” Singh told BusinessLine on Campus on the sidelines of the Sustainability and Business Conference (SUSBUS-2018) organised by Indian Institute of Management Calcutta on Saturday.

Global warming and climate change have altered the rainfall pattern in several parts of the country. Farmers should understand the rain pattern and its distribution and grow crops accordingly rather than depending on underground water which is fast depleting.

“Our underground reservoirs are turning empty today. If farmers are not careful, we may not have enough water for our future generations,” he said.

Such unsustainable agricultural practices also pushes farmers into a debt trap as they try to cultivate crops which are not suitable for a particular region at any cost. The indebtedness puts pressure on farmers leading them to commit suicide, he observed.

Sustainable development

According to Singh, any form of development should be sustainable. “Development should be displacement, destruction, and disaster free,” he said.

India Inc. has an important role to play in promoting such sustainable development, he said.

“Companies should come up with community driven decentralised management plan to promote sustainability particularly in relation to nature,” he said.

He added that institutes such as IITs and IIMs can help build the bridge between community and corporate.

According to him, the Indian education system is teaching ‘extraction and exploitation’ of nature; there is not much focus on nutrition or management of nature.

“There needs to be a change at the curriculum level to promote sustainable management of nature,” he said.