BANGALORE: "Almost 400 million people in India earn less than Rs. 42 and this Deepavali too, like every day, many of them will go hungry to bed." This telling statement from an Oxfam Trust volunteer stood out starkly against the backdrop of a high profile shopping complex on M.G. Road, decked up to welcome the festival of lights in a frenzy of consumerism.
Distributing anti-poverty badges that read, "I will light poverty away with education," a group of Oxfam volunteers attempted to draw the consumers' attention to a different India that existed beyond the glitz of Bangalore.
Fight against poverty
Here's what Bharatiraja from Oxfam had to say: "We stand here on the street every day and find that most people in Bangalore seem to be unaware of the seriousness of the issue of poverty. We want the average Bangalorean to know there is another India beyond ITPL and Electronics City, and we want them to join us this Deepavali festival in fighting poverty in a simple way."
Oxfam team leader Anto Francis Bharat wanted the Deepavali shopper to also think of the below poverty line families.
"There is gross imbalance in the distribution of wealth, particularly when 65 per cent of our people live in the rural areas. Deepavali is not a celebration of consumerism," he said.
Did the average Bangalorean listen to him?
"Some people brush us aside, while others listen and some even get into a debate with us," he said.
His colleague Deena talked about how Oxfam was into poverty alleviation efforts through education, empowerment of women and by helping farmers to be sustainable.