Say participants at an interaction organised as part of ‘Peace Festival’

There was nothing in common among them. All six were poles apart in terms of background, education qualification, and even country of origin. But they all spoke in one voice when it came to offering solutions to eradicate poverty. Though the solutions were varied in nature, the consensus was that the beginning did not have to be big.

A student from the U.S. , a Gandhian, a member of a self-help group (SHG), a parent of an HIV-affected child – they were among the participants at an interaction on poverty solutions organised as part of the Coimbatore Peace Festival 2012 by Shanti Ashram on the theme “Impacting Poverty: Building Peace,” here on Saturday.

Before coming up with solutions, all the participants agreed upon the fact that poverty did not only refer to lack of material wealth, but also referred to lack of anything in life, most importantly, education and love. Students had a major role in contributing their mite in whatever little way possible to ensure that children and youth without means could be educated and shown love to make them blossom into worthy citizens.

Affirming this, Raja from Ganghigram Rural Institute, gave instances of how students who had attended rural camps near Gandhigram had spontaneously come up with contributions so that poor girls and boys could be ensured of higher education. He said change could come about only from students. With their hard work, unity, and cooperation, they had the ability to eradicate poverty in every sense.

According to Harsha, a Plus-One student from the U.S., when India could sustain a growth rate of 8 per cent in the last 20 years in spite of corruption and various other roadblocks, it could come up with a astounding figure in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if it could remove all these.

The general plea was that if the rich became socially conscious and helped someone needy, then the situation where the rich became richer and poor became poorer would end. There was also an observation that if youth cut down on their “extravagant” expenses and spent a portion of that on needy children, it would make a difference to their lives.

But the solution offered by Ahmed Begum, a SHG member, was of a different kind. She said that instead of decrying poverty, it was necessary to overcome it with one’s own effort.

Relating her experience, she said how she rose above from economic and education disability to make a life for herself.

More In: Coimbatore