Nature gift, Ioyki

South Asia is a basket with a regionful of problems, or a region with a basketful of problems, whatever. But the triumph of and challenge for our land is in the way in which we deal with human output of the most material kind. I mean excreta. Gunk.

Just as we are what we eat, we are also (slightly circularly) what we digest. It is the spreading of wastes into the fields and terraces that has so added to the agricultural fertility of the vast and fruitful plains of the Indus and Ganga. In these tropics, the sunshine and humidity help bacteria to grow. Decay is the order of the day, which leads to plant productivity. Organic breakdown adds to the humus, already rich with Himalayan silt and plant detritus.

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Himal Southasian