The title of the third largest economy in the world will befall upon India soon, with towering buildings in her largest cities, mega-corporations employing tens of thousands, infrastructural developments, widening national highways, ever increasing consumer spending power, and the fastest missiles in the world. While the political clowns jumping in and around Tihar eagerly proclaim, “Shining, shining, India is shining”, do we citizens ‘above’ the poverty line, realize that much remains to be questioned of the pathetic state the rest of the country is in?
We are a country with more poverty than any other nation that is comparable to us in terms of size and population. Forty one per cent of the country has less than a daily income of Rs. 60 to survive on; of which 25% thrive on not more than Rs. 30 a day. Two hundred and seventy five million people are malnourished, without medicine, without access to water and sanitation, and are ill-treated and abused in households and work places across the country.
A recent visit with CRY to the Kolar District had confirmed my fears to be true. “You don’t have to go to Somalia to see the malnourished, you can find it here in Kolar,” exclaimed Naranya Swami, Director of the NGO, TREES. He argued that the food subsidies provided by the government is a mere 38 paise allocation per child even though it is supposed to be Rs. 5. “The government claims to have all under control, but the funds and support have rarely trickled down. There is not enough that is done for them. It’s as though no one wants them to come out of poverty,” he added.
It is not that the shoddy state of affairs has been hidden from the public; rather, it is the numbness of the urban masses to the predicament of those in suffering. There are few who are content to say, ‘It is not my responsibility, it is the government’s job’, but if there is no one to keep the government in check, there would be no action at all. It is time for us Indians to address this inequality. One just has to look around to find the means to combat poverty. One can volunteer with organizations who help the poor, judiciously fund the right organizations, find out how much of what you invest reaches the poor, empower organizations that educate the poor, spread the awareness, write articles, talk to your friends, question the government, question their motives, and support NGO’s, amongst others.
We will never be able to eradicate poverty by simply changing the definition of how the government defines the poverty line. Regardless of large or small scale efforts, only through collective action can we the Indian citizens’ nurture and spread the commitment to tackle poverty and work towards the prosperity of our nation.
Readers Responses with Solutions
- Poor to Broke by Vidyut http://aamjanata.com/poor-to-broke-rethinking-poverty-solutions/
Testimonials of Change
- Small School for Underprevilaged by Tarun Vijay http://tarun-vijay.blogspot.com/2011/10/small-school-for-underprivileged-has.html
- Ashoka Social Entrepreneurs http://ashoka.org/getinvolved/team
- CRY – Child Rights And You http://www.cry.org/volunteer/index.html
- The Smile Foundation http://www.smilefoundationindia.org/Volunteers.htm
- Charity Aid Foundation India http://www.cafindia.org/
- Living Like the Other Half (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Who will be savior of our country- citizens or leaders? (admissionjankari.wordpress.com)
- India’s food crisis has many ingredients (guardian.co.uk)