The nightmare of last week when the whole of NCR was wrapped in a thick blanket of smog, made people question whether it was worth living in what is considered the heart of India. Panic buttons were pressed and the Delhi Government ordered schools to shut. As per the Supreme Court, this hazard violates the Fundamental Right to Life. It asked different agencies to stop the blame game and take concrete steps and find a solution to this recurring public health emergency.
While the State looks for the solution, we need a changed template for development and urbanization. As Gandhiji said, “India lives in her villages” and we need to go back and shift the paradigm of development towards building robust rural infrastructure. Thousands of people living in rural areas migrate to the cities every day, seeking better economic opportunities. Many end up in slums that are hotbeds of pollution, unhygienic conditions and of a much lower quality of life than their villages.
We need to recreate rural India in a way which can house the aspirations and needs of not only the people who live there but also those who want to work and come back to their roots. City dwellers are realising the importance of going back to the basics of healthy and holistic living. New-age skills and innovation can generate jobs which explore the rural settings with a fresh outlook. Industry 4.0 is creating job opportunities of gainful livelihood which is not location-specific. A robust ICT infrastructure must reach all our villages. This will not only bring a new life to the village economy but will also stop the migration and bring back those who are yearning for their roots.