India’s Prime Minsiter, Narendra Modi, has launched an initiative to combat unemployment AND environmental issues in one shot. The government will be hiring jobless youth to plant trees along the entire National Highways network. Millions of trees are in the plan, providing more than simple roadside beauty, but a density of greenery (some suggest is wishful thinking and mathematically impossible) that would be forest-like. In light of the intense impact the Indian nation has had on the environment, this is a large step in the right direction. In some versions of the plan, fruit trees are the model, so local communities suffering from food scarcity can also reap the crops.
The plan is aiming quite high, and it doesn’t stop there. It was announced along with grand schemes to clean two of the major river systems and other waterways, and developing systems to better capture rainwater–more than 60% of which is lost and washed to the oceans while locals clamor for potable drinking water, water for hygienic use, and agricultural/irrigation water to increase food yield.
While some suggest these are political promises, if the nation can put some action behind them, even falling short of these lofty goals would still be progress. Here’s hoping India takes these bold steps toward viable environmental solutions that also address underemployment, and that many nations will take notice and follow suit.