Punjab’s education minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, gave birth to a new controversy by making an insensitive remark over the death of a 13-year old girl, who along with her mother was pushed out of a bus after confronting an alleged molestation in Moga district of Punjab.
He said, “Nobody can stop accidents; whatever happens, happens by God’s will.”
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government of the state is also facing some despised criticism over the handling of the case. The bus in which such a brutal incident happened belongs to the Orbit Company, which is owned by the Badals, the family that governs Shiromani Akali Dal.
On the other hand, the girl’s family has refused to cremate her or to allow a post-mortem. The family is aiming to file a case against Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The family has also rejected a compensation of Rs 20 lakh and a government job for the mother.
Meanwhile, Congress leader, Randeep Singh Surjewala, tagged Rakhra’s statement as a crude form of disrespect towards women reflecting the ‘arrogance of power.’
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.
India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.
“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.
India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.
Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.
Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.
Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.
According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.