As a millennial traveling through different parts of India, 2017 was a fascinating year filled with hope, joy, pain, and wonder.
I began the year in the Western Ghats of India—a stretch of mountain ranges famous for their rich biodiversity, and picturesque hill towns established by the British.
These mountains are just a few hours drive away from my hometown, which hosts lush paddy fields and coconut farms. Together, Tamil Nadu and Kerala account for the highest percentage of coconuts produced in India.
Being close to the equator, the region experiences high humidity and very hot summers. The farms are highly dependent on dams and efficient canal irrigation systems to produce crops.
The region enjoys sufficient rainfall from the Monsoons, making it a rich agricultural belt. The farmers here employ modern agricultural practices and utilize agrochemicals to achieve high productivity.
My own family is involved in the cultivation of coconuts and vegetables. Coconuts are a preferred crop because they are harvested at regular intervals throughout the year, giving farm owners a regular income.
In late winter, I moved to New Delhi—the country’s capital, and the second most populous city in the world with a population of 25 million people.
New Delhi is the administrative capital of India and, together with its satellite cities, houses the headquarters of most major businesses and political bodies in India.
Geographically and culturally, the city stands in stark contrast to south India. The city is diverse ethnically and culturally, hosting migrants from all over the country, and from other countries such as Afghanistan, U.S., and Nigeria.
The temperature in the city oscillates to the extremes—hitting as high as 45 degree Celsius (113˚F) in summer and dropping to 6 degrees Celsius (43˚F) in winter. Both cooling systems and heating systems enjoy good sales here.
People from the highly populous neighboring states migrate to Delhi in large numbers every year to seek employment, and the city has not disappointed them.
New Delhi enjoys a strong water supply from India’s major rivers—Yamuna and Ganges. Despite the 25 million plus growing population, water supply is not a major problem.
The city thrives on its ever-expanding infrastructure, including one of the best metro train systems in the world.
In the past few years, pollution has been the only major concern in the city. Severe smog forced authorities to close city schools for a short period in 2016 and 2017.
Moreover, it is only a matter of time before the city reaps the benefits of economic growth—which will enable the city’s transport fleet, and industries in neighboring states, to switch to cleaner technologies.
Be it the agricultural south or the administrative hub of the north, the natural resources in India have been efficiently utilized by modern technology—thanks to the country’s strong energy sector.
Radical environmentalists have often portrayed the metropolitan areas of India (especially Delhi and Mumbai) as environmental and social nightmares. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
My observations along my journey have shown the brighter sides of these cities, which far outweigh the overhyped negative aspects.
With December upon us, the temperatures have dropped. Winter marks the onset of the tourist season in India, and I would be glad to finish off the year by exploring beautiful Mughal architecture in the city of Delhi.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in New Delhi, India.