‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’ (‘Bread, Clothing and Shelter’) often referred as the salient necessities of life, are also the ones which are not accessible to most of the people in the world today. Every human has a story. There are myriad of stories being written and rewritten from time to time. Some stories are known to all while others remain untold and unheard off. To put it another way, there are plethora of opportunities provided to just the people who have the power of wealth and prosperity to grab it while the rest sit in the dark wearing a semblance of smile pondering about ways to earn a living and provide a minimum standard of living for their families. This is the stark distinction between the lives of the rich and the poor.
The poor who is nothing less than just a human is considered inferior in the society. This social oppression adds up to his already existing wretched and diabolical living. Furthermore, the fears, hopes, trepidations and aspirations of the riches are entirely antithetical to the poor. The difference between the rich and poor is merely a comfort factor.
For example: A wealthy person desires a full course meal to be satiated. On the other hand the poor is deprived of a onetime meal. The rich desires more luxury in addition to his pre existing necessary comforts while the poor struggles to attain his everyday essentials. The riches dream big only because they can afford it. The utility of everyday essentialities for a poor is far more than that of a rich as his purchasing power for any commodity is lesser. The riches aim for more and more satisfaction while the poor heaves a sigh of relief on achieving the simple needs of life, like food to eat, water to drink, home to live in.
Poverty is not a personal choice but something that is forced by birth or by fate. To elucidate what engenders poverty; firstly, we need to scrutinize the main reason for poverty to prevail in the society which is the very belief and notion of the poor that he’s doomed to be poor forever and there is no way escaping it. It is a truism that the ‘poor often cause their own poverty’. Poverty generally arises due to bad choices that a person makes in his life or is sometimes merely a luck factor influencing it. But the reason that it stays and persists is because majority of people are obstinate about finding a solution to get out of poverty because once they fall into the trap of it, they tend to be demoralised and pessimistic. Gradually they act it as some act of fortune and get acquainted to it which leads to the perpetual state of poverty which was supposed to be ephemeral in nature. A long lasting poverty, otherwise called Chronic poverty is a situation which is passed down through generations until this vicious cycle is broken through optimism, success and economic wellbeing. Chronic poverty has grave consequences. The poor children especially go through the arduous journey of suffering. They are deprived of a normal, contended and carefree childhood, education, healthcare, etc.
Poverty is the mother of all evils. Poverty is the bigger picture and it is followed by many other serious challenges. It gives birth to hunger, homelessness, child labour, diseases, malnutrition; the list goes on and on.
Let us explicate the various egregious effects of poverty.
The most awful outcome of poverty is no access to nutritious food, clean water, and hygienic environment. The plight of the people living in poverty is ineffable.
According to WHO Report 2018, 45% of the child deaths worldwide are from causes related to under nutrition.
The children don’t get adequate amount of nutrition and their young bodies are the most affected by the pernicious effect of poverty. Many poor children fall sick due to hunger, improper sanitation, unhygienic conditions, contaminated water and are left untreated due to lack of proper healthcare facilities for the poor and this results in unprecedented rise in infant mortality rate as well as child mortality rate.
Even in developed countries like England, the infant mortality rate has increased in last 4 years (as of 2019) and the findings suggest that the rise is linked to child poverty. The well developed and affluent countries also can’t run away from the clutches of poverty.
Bad luck, bad choices aren’t always the origin of poverty. The unfortunate happenings like wars, epidemics, natural calamities lead to several indescribable atrocities like unemployment, hunger, scarcity, diseases, etc. These natural as well as manmade disasters often hinder the lifestyle of the people taking away their means of income leaving them with no choice but to suffer.
To give an illustration of what I mean, let us look at two cases to substantiate the above causes of poverty:-
Firstly, let us examine the cause and effect of the worst humanitarian crisis that the world has ever faced, The crisis of Yemen .The condition of the people living in Yemen, the Gulf’s poorest country is the gut wrenching portrayal of how a civil war can have hazardous impacts on the lives of millions of civilians.
According to the World Food Programme survey “More than 44% of the Yemen’s population doesn’t have enough access to food.”
The displacement and unemployment due to war has left the civilians in shambles with no means to earn living as well as with no home to live in.
Another report from UNICEF elucidates that conflict and poverty in Yemen exacerbates child malnutrition. Nearly 2.2 million of Yemeni children are acutely malnourished and an estimated 4,62,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
These figures keep on accelerating in a high rate year after year. This malnourishment is followed by several life threatening diseases. It adversely affects the physical, mental development of children. Furthermore, there is a constant struggle for education and especially young girls are deprived of schooling.
Although, the international organisations like World Food Programme, UNICEF, and several NGOs are helping the civilians to cope up with the adversaries by providing cash assistance, nutrition assistance aiming to end hunger, educational assistance, etc; there is still a long way to go.
However, there are some calamities that not just affect one particular area or any country but spreads misery and torment in the whole world. The Covid- 19 pandemic that we are currently facing is a suitable example of a threat to the entire mankind. The economy has sunk to its nadir due to corona virus as majority of people worldwide have lost the means of their income. The rate of unemployment amid Covid-19 is increasing rapidly leading to unusual growth in poverty and is posing a menace to the livelihood to myriad of workers all over the globe. Numerous people are migrating from place to place in search of home, food and basic necessities. The world is fighting this infectious disease and is hoping to conquer this battle, the poor fighting the hardest of all.
The elimination of poverty is the call of the hour. To combat these detrimental effects of poverty, we need to take actions. The government of the countries worldwide must make sure that education is a human right, not just a privilege of the riches. The government must also formulate policies for employment generation and make sure that every household has access to electricity, food, and water, everyday. It must also render proper healthcare facilities to all the adults and their children irrespective of the income disparities. Laws need to be enacted for protection of fundamental rights of the poor in all the countries.
These steps have already been taken by government of many countries but there are still many countries where there are no laws yet framed for the betterment of the poor. Apart from government doing its part in eradicating poverty; efforts must be taken to galvanise the poor to acquire all the benefits of the government schemes and to keep faith of getting out of the vicious cycle of poverty by hard work and perseverance.
The middle class and the rich masses ought to treat the poor with respect and dignity because one’s income doesn’t make anyone superior or inferior, good values do. At the end, your compassion as a human is what matters the most.
-Priti Priyanka (One of the Prize Winners of Article Writing Competition 2020 in the 13-24 Years Age Group)
Picture: World Food Programme officials in Columbia in 2018 (Credits – WFP/Norha Restrepo)