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Rajendra Singh, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar (Rajasthan). Singh is a highly respected social activist working with water and river issues in India. Singh started Tarun Bharat Sangh for building and maintaining johads. In over 30 years, rivulets dry for 80 years were revived. He launched the Rashtriya Jal Biradari (National Water Community) in 2001 to provide a platform for concerned citizens to discuss and debate water issues. Rashtriya Jal Biradari now has over 5000 members. He also started the Jal Jan Jodo (Linking Water and People) campaign in 2013 focusing on educating communities in river catchment areas about the causes and prevention of pollution, encroachment and over-exploitation of river waters.
Session 1E - Public lecture
Indigenous knowledge system of water management in India
In India, traditionally, knowledge was transmitted through practical work under the direction of respected elders and gurus. Thus, the people engaged in practical work were really the pupils of an indigenous knowledge system. All pupils, poor and prosperous, and the State joined hands in the conservation of water and the preservation of knowledge. Prosperous pupils provided help to the poorest ones, and the State provided the land. Indigenous water management was thus a pupil-driven decentralized system.
This indigenous knowledge system had acknowledged the diversity in agro-ecological zones even those that seems inhospitable, and had developed a specific science, a relevant engineering and a technology appropriate to each part of the country to enable living in a sustainable manner with Nature.
Since this technology, perfected by tradition, was transmitted orally and practically, this ancient indigenous engineering was not well documented. However, in some cases, the legal and administration aspects were documented: for example, in Kautilyas Arthasastra, one chapter is devoted to a very comprehensive and detailed administrative rules, covering the whole range of legal and economic implications of a decentralized community-driven water management, facilitated by the State.
The objective of the talk is to showcase indigenous knowledge systems and their contributions to development of sustainable water management strategies in the light of community development initiatives and also to share ideas as contemporary development issues in water management.