FLOODS AND FAMINES
Floods and Famines are natural calamities and a common feature of Indian life. Our food depends on the Rain God and monsoons are very tricky. Sometimes we get too much of rain and sometimes we get no rain at all. When we get no rain, crops cannot grow in large parts of India i.e. Famine takes place and when we get rain in cats and dogs, our crops are destroyed by torrential rains or washed away by the rivers in floods. In either case our nation suffers. Our farmers pray fervently for normal rains-neither too much nor too little. Floods are caused by three factors:
- Crowd burst
- Monsoon depression and
- Tropical cyclones.
Of late deforestation and soil erosion are also causing floods. India depends for its rain a both the monsoons—South western and North-Eastern.
It is not possible to control the monsoon by any scientific means. All our knowledge falls flat here. No scientist of the world can so manage the atmosphere to get the right quantity of rain at right time of the year. Rain can be produced artificially but the cost is heavy. Therefore, we have to depend on the Rain God, Indra for our food production every year and people pray with folded hands to get not only rains but also rains in proper quantity. Either too much or too little can ruin our harvest either way.
The truth is that flood and famines is a regular feature of Indian economy. Every year there are floods in some parts and famine in others. Sometimes there are famines all over the country for want of rains and sometimes our crops are destroyed by heavy floods. It is a great gamble. When there is a famine the government distributes grains, remits taxes on land and provides other assistance to the farmers. When there are too heavy rains, the government provides boats to rescue villagers, alternate sites for their residence and food for the empty stomachs. Both the Government of India and the State Governments have allocated large funds for the purpose. In addition to this there are Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and Chief Minister’s Relief Fund which provide help in any national calamity. Both floods and famines are indeed great national calamities.
Floods and famines are such natural and national calamities that we are plagued with them year out and year in. Indra, the God of rains, is a whimsical creature. Sometimes he withholds rains and there is drought over large tracts of the country. For several years in the seventies there was great drought in the country. Then there came great floods in 1978 when fields and farms were destroyed and thousands of men and cattle lost their lives.
We have no control over floods but we definitely have control over famines and drought. Famines can be overcome rather have been overcome by the Government adopting scientific methods of conservation of soil and by constructing check dams. Recently research has developed better methods of agriculture even in drought prone areas. The ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics) established at Hyderabad is extending immense services in this direction. Hence we can confidently hope that droughts no longer can threaten us.