Poverty Poses a Threat

So many poor, so easy to ignore them, so we seldom take actions when we see them beg, cry, eat out of garbage, or in open spaces sleep or relieve themselves. 

Why bother with poverty? India faces major issues like: terrorism, communal violence, HIV/AIDS, restless youth under 30 (nearly 58 percent of our population), deforestation, pollution, road accidents, shortages, corruption, in-state fighting, unstable neighbors in the northwest and in the east, and on and on. Poverty should be up front in the list.

Let us start with the children of poor parents. They are malnourished and seldom receive nutritious food. Hunger damages their brain and retards their growth. Later, when they grow up, they remain weak, get frequently sick, and have little or no education. Therefore, if we do not help the infants and toddlers of the poor, we will end up supporting youths and adults of poor caliber. And this portends a problem.

Next, when a poor child grows up to be an adult, he or she, most likely, remains uneducated, untrained, and unemployed. Such an adult can be persuaded to carry out violent acts or become a terrorist or undertake unhealthy or dangerous work. And this portends a problem. A Pakistani terrorist, who is now in an Indian jail for killing people in Mumbai in 2008, is an example. 

Also, if poor start to illegally migrate to other countries ' like Zimbabweans going to South Africa or Bangladeshis coming to India ' in search of a better life, it could create a political tension between two nations. And this portends a problem.

However, if we have a few poor, some of the public and private funds spent on food and clothes for the poor could go to solving or mitigating other problems. Likewise, some of the medical resources of government and charitable hospitals could go into medical research. 

Arguments like these, and there are many, ought to convince the ordinary people that they need to get involved in rapidly reducing the poverty so the poor can be converted into productive citizens and economic resources spent on them, however meager, could be put to use somewhere else.

Who are poor? Countless millions of babies who are born to poor parents are likely to grow up as poor. Many become poor due to circumstances: when a family's breadwinner dies prematurely or commits suicide or becomes permanently disabled; when everything a family owns is lost in a natural disaster or in communal violence; when one's possessions are taken away because one is unable to repay money borrowed to farm a land or to pay for a girl's marriage or to pay for curing an illness; when one becomes addicted to gambling or alcohol; when one is born with disability and no one is ready to support the disabled; when a head of the household cannot find a work or earn enough to make ends meet. Some simply remain poor for they do not have resources or do not know how or do not have motivation to get out of poverty. Some accept poverty as their fate and misfortune and believe they are paying for bad karmas of past life.

How to make a difference? Poverty persists despite the efforts by governments, NGOs, charities, foundations, businesses, and individuals. Our streets, slums, and shantytowns remain full of poor and the situation is unlikely to improve soon.

The government programs to help poor are poorly running and its monetary assistance is not trickling down to the poor. Moreover, philanthropic organizations are likely to cut down on donations as their endowment generates a poor rate of return due to a sluggish economy worldwide. 

However, I believe, a non-poor helping a poor, on a one to one basis, will make a big difference. The helper knows the helped. And if each person adopts a poor and lifts the poor out of poverty then we will have done what needs to be done ' serve and save a precious life and turn that life into a self-supporting proud individual.     


More by :  Vasant G. Gandhi

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