Hiding poverty


Covering poverty with a wall: is it possible? Instead of constructing a wall, the government could have constructed houses for the poor people under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana using the same bricks. Another point is that Americans know better about India’s poverty than our politicians, economists and social workers. So, no need to hide it. Nobel Prizes for Amartya Sen, Mother Teresa, Abhijit Banerji and recognition for Satyajit Ray’s cinema are illustrative of the fact that the Western world is aware of India’s slums and shanties.

The attempt at camouflage reveals a neglect of the landless poor. Constructing a wall is not new to the world. Generally, countries construct walls against invasion by ‘enemies’. China constucted the Great Wall just to prevent the enemies from the steppe grasslands. Israel constucted a wall against Palestine in West Asia. Recently, the U.S. started constructing a wall against Mexican refugees. The wall between East Germany and West Germany was brought down in 1989.

In India, constucting a wall around rich people’s residential areas is not something new. It was in practice even before independence. It was to avoid theft and to maintain caste hierarchy. Gated communities are nothing but a version of these walled compounds. These gated people always keep their distance from the poor.

To reduce the income inequality, the produce of farmers and agricultural labourers, who comprise around 60% of our population, should be protected. The government should construct godown facilities in each village and also establish food processing industries in rural areas. This will create employment opportunities for the rural people. Farm labourers will become industrial workers. They will get employment opportunities throughout the year. Villages also should be provided with air-conditioned container facilities to transport and export the various processed food items. The Kisan Rail announced in the Budget is a welcome development in this regard. If government really interested in increasing the purchasing power of the rural people, good preservation of agricultural grains and products is a must. A handful of rich persons cannot enjoy the national wealth for long periods. It is highly unacceptable. So, instead of hiding poverty, it is better to take steps to bring the poor people into the mainstream by giving them their due share.

P. Arunachalam,


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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:05:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/hiding-poverty/article30897543.ece

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