I enjoy meeting people and sharing views, and what’s more interesting than listening to an Indian born American citizen lament the phenomenon of open poverty in India! I had one such experience yesterday while sitting at a dinner table. We were talking about the emerging economies of globally delegated business visions when the focus changed to India’s fight against poverty. Now, I am not one to argue that there is no poverty back home. Sure, more than 25% of India’s population lives below the official poverty line. What I do take objection against is when people look solely at media portrayal or hard numbers against India irrespective of statistics.
Poverty in India is intermingled with the affluence. It is a fairly homogenous society in that context. On the other hand, America’s poverty is by and large extremely concentrated into geographical and sociological clusters. You don’t go about getting bothered by beggars, but you do see homeless people wandering about at rural intersections and downtown areas. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, about 25% of the black population in the US lives below the poverty line! Sure, this statistic doesn’t mean anything when compared to the real statistic of about 13% living below the poverty line. It is a telling story though.
What’s amazing is that while Indians living below the poverty line have successively reduced in number since the 50s, the trend is completely the opposite in the US, where there are more people below the poverty line every successive year since the last 5 years, and where the number of people suffering from hunger has shown an upward trend over the past years. In fact, the poverty rate in the US has always been higher than that in the 70s.
Why then do we still not see India in the true light? India is working towards solving its problems while providing the world’s biggest democracy, freedom, and opportunities. We have achieved a lot over the years after independance. My request to the nay-sayers is to keep it up so that I have more reasons to be proud to be an Indian.