What is the Chapter About?

In this chapter, C.V. Raman talks about water and how essential it is to human life, and terms it a great source of wealth to the country. He goes on to elaborate about problems caused by water such as soil erosion, and how it can be combatted through conservation and utilization of water, and afforestation.

Water: Man’s Greatest Resource

For a long time, man has been trying to find the elixir of life to achieve immortality. But the true elixir of life is plain water. C.V. Raman brings up the example of the Nile River in Egypt and how it has created a fertile valley rich with life and vegetation to prove this. Egypt’s ancient civilization was created and maintained by the life-giving waters of Nile. This emphasizes how a common thing like plain water has shaped the course of the earth’s history and continues to do so.

Rain-fed tanks in South India play an important role in agriculture. Water carries silt which gives a characteristic colour to these rain-fed tanks. And although often neglected, they add beauty to the countryside, as do little streams and ponds. Water in the landscape is like eyes in a human face- they reflect the mood of the hour by reflecting the sky.

Soil Erosion and Methods to Combat it

Water can also play a destructive role and wash away soil, which is the basis of all agriculture, thus disastrously affecting the life of the country. Soil erosion is a serious problem in many parts of India, and we must closely study the measures to prevent it.

The early stages of soil erosion may pass unnoticed. In the later stages, it creates deep gullies and ravines that make farming impossible. Sudden bursts of heavy rain are responsible for causing such soil erosion. Other causes are the slope of the land, removal of trees that protect the soil, hollows through which the water can flow rapidly, and the absence of checks to such rapid flow.

Soil erosion is a great disturbance to successful agriculture in many parts of India, and this calls for urgent attention and preventive action. Some of the methods that have been suggested are terracing of land, construction of bunds, contour cultivation and planting of appropriate types of vegetation. The aim is to check the flow of water at the early stage before it has the power to erode land.

Conservation of Water and its Advantages

Water is the basis of all life. All animals and plants contain a great amount of water in its body, and water plays a part in all bodily activities. The moisture in the soil is essential to the growth of trees. So, the preservation and utilization of water is necessary for human welfare.

The main sources of water are surface water and rain or snowfall. Much of Indian agriculture depends on seasonal rainfall and is affected by its failure or irregularity. Soil erosion and irregular rainfall are closely connected. Thus, preventing soil erosion would also help conserve water.

In a country that only has seasonal rainfall, a lot of rainwater flows down into streams and rivers and finally into the sea. A huge amount of precious water is therefore lost to the country. Harnessing our rivers and utilizing their water must happen on a national level. Large areas of scrub jungle land could become fertile through well-planned action.


The problem of afforestation is also closely connected to water conservation. Suitable trees should be planted systematically in all areas, and civilized forests must be developed. This would serve as a source of great wealth to India. It would check soil erosion, as well as conserve water.

Other Benefits of Water Conservation

Measures for controlling water movement and conserving water would also improve life in the countryside. Waterways, the cheapest form of internal transport, should be developed. Harvesting of water would also produce hydroelectric power which would enable the improvement of rural life and economy. It would enable more groundwater to be tapped, helping overcome the difficulties arising from inadequate or irregular rainfall.

Water, although considered the commonest of liquids, has amazing properties that maintain animal and plant life. So, the study of the nature and properties of water is of the highest scientific interest and has a great scope of research.


Water is one of man’s greatest resources, and must be treated as such for the benefit and improvement of human life. It aids agriculture, the backbone of the country, but also causes problems such as soil erosion. Proper conservation and utilization of water is of utmost importance because it can solve these problems as well as help in the development of the country.