Another monsoon in India and yet again, floods are making the headlines in all newspapers and media outlets. Whatsapp messages are flooded (pun intended) with images of the devastation caused by water. The fury and the magnificence of water as it cascades down from dams and waterfalls make for a compelling view. Not so for the hundreds of thousands affected by the rain and the overflowing rivers. Livelihoods are impacted, transport comes to a standstill and the attention of the entire country turns towards the regions impacted.
Hailing from these parts of the country, I can vouch for the beauty of the monsoons and the rains. The entire countryside turns into a blanket of greenery that is luscious and quite simply, beautiful. Of course, a trek through the hills in the Western Ghats would have to wait until the rain subsides, but once it does, it would be stunningly beautiful. Typing this, sitting far away from those places, I can almost smell the earth and take in the beauty of the water dripping off the leaves of the trees. It is a sight for sore eyes.
It is unfortunate, then, that we have this situation of floods repeating itself every year. I can’t help but point to us humans as the cause for our own suffering. The districts that are suffering the fury of the floods this year has been affected by drought and deficient rainfall for a few years. And going by human history, I wouldn’t be surprised if people had built up houses ever so much closer to the banks of the rivers as they dried up in the hot summer months. Farming would have commenced on these once river-beds and over time, man would have staked claim on land that rightfully belongs to nature. It was time that she reclaimed what was hers. Backwaters overflow, rivers overflow – but do they, really? Weren’t they always flowing the same way? As we humans expand in population, we search for greener pastures and these dried up river beds are fertile options in the dry months and years. If we set up houses and our livelihoods in those areas, surely, we can’t expect it to remain that way forever? In many places in India, floods are an annual phenomenon. Why is it a flood, if it happens every year?
It brings me to another point. How much rain is “correct”? Almost every year, regardless of the rainfall, locals complain of how little rain there has been. This year, there has been copious amounts of rain – now it is too much rain. Over the past so many years, I can’t recall a single instance when there has been just the “right” amount of rainfall.
Ultimately, all of this is just human, isn’t it? We have a topic to talk about – the weather and the rain. Life goes on.