Thursday, 10 January 2013

Poverty has reduced

Growth has to be "inclusive" otherwise we would have increase in poverty while growing. Form  year 2005 to 2010, poverty has reduced by 6.6 percent in rural India and 4.3 in urban India. Consumption pattern in all strata have changed for the better. The poor are better off than ever before. Rate of economic growth(expressed in GDP) cannot ensure reduction in poverty. Economic growth alone cannot pull people out of poverty. There is inequality in consumption/income. This can be measured. six and a half lakh villages in India is a vast area to make effective changes. There will be inequality of asset and income because we are so big in terms of number of people and being dispersed over large area. We cannot compare ourselves with other developing countries in various parameters. We have an effective social security scheme which has started functioning. And we have MGNREGA which is providing employment to rural people and is increasing their wages. We have an effective distribution Scheme--thanks to "Aadhar". We have started giving the people free medicines and have made pharmaceutical industries accountable(generic drugs)These are big plus points. No poverty index or no "quotient" can measure these achievements. We are now continuously addressing inequalities like inequality of opportunities, inequality of access to social services, inequality into education and to health facilities. And of course, gender inequalities, are becoming the biggest challenges.
The poorest are still battling the environment. In impoverished areas, they are still using firewood  and not being able to afford electricity etc.When we protect the environment and make rules like no chopping of trees, the poorest are the most affected.We understand that development has to take place while protecting the environment. If we develop by destroying the environment, then this is not true development. We have to develop by giving the local people livelihoods and we must increase their standard of living. Only then we would have addressed poverty.
Inevitably, we rob the people and their land of the natural resources, may it be coal, or any other mineral. We strip the land of the valuable resources, and leave the land deserted of all vegetation. It takes years and years before the land becomes fertile enough to farm, and the water table gets contaminated by the resource mined. We actually impoverish the people in the name of development.
By starting industries, we inevitably impoverish the local people. Why? Projects are approved without getting consent from environment ministry or assessment of how the project would affect the local people. After the project is implemented, we see the negative problems which it has created for the people. By then it is too late. Environmental degradation has already happened and land cannot be revived. When a project is given to a private developer, only profits are seen and not the public good. For instance, in construction of a straight highway, several wells would be destroyed. If the highway was laid in a curved(longer) path, then the wells could be saved. Wells are still used by the locals for getting water, and to save them longer highways curving around the wells would have to be made. Longer highway would mean higher cost which a private firm developing it would not spend on. So public good is not envisaged  and well are destroyed to make shorter highways.Ultimately, people would suffer if we leave it up to the profit oriented developers.But government makes concessions to private profit-driven companies. Bigger firms make bigger projects and upon execution result in bigger eco-catastrophes.For instance massive mining activity loosens up the soil and the silt from it clogs the rivers. Floods follow it causing much loss of lives and cattle of the local people. So government has to take charge and intervene to avert such events(like floods) by constantly monitoring projects which is not done.
We have the resources and we have the technology but do we have the governance which can put these together for true development and progress?
We need to create good number of jobs which are of good quality, we need to make effective social security schemes for better re-distribution, we need to increase spending on health and education, We need to give access to all in participation of national growth(access to credit markets, access to agrinet etc) Poverty cannot be defined by statistics but growth and development is clearly visible. Instead of checking poverty levels, we can measure development by visualizing how many people have been affected by changes in their envionment--impoverishment is always unaccounted for.By statistics, India is growing very fast.

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