Problem of sustainability of the human population has been haunting us for long. Population increases take place in economically poor countries depressing living standards. Physical resources are depleted at a faster rate due to economic development and shortages in many sectors appear. The resource crunch leaves its impact on the poor whose basic needs are not met. Poverty stares at them and instability, strife, discontent and disorder have become daily occurrences in many parts of the world.
Resources crunch badly affect those already poor. The inefficiency of the economic system results in misdirected development of the economy driven by market forces and greed and not by need and social justice. More and more resources are diverted to channels producing goods and services catering to the needs of the rich and where profit is high.
The result is that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. This is seen glaringly after the advent of globalization. The rich command more of purchasing power and more resources of all kinds. This reduces the share of the poor. We see cases of the poor people selling lands which are cornered by the rich. The poor move to remote areas and the steep increase in land prices make it almost impossible for them to own land and meet their housing needs. Inflation in such countries eats away the purchasing power and renders disposable income insignificant.
Poverty is a dark scar on humanity. It is a source of instability and strife. All of us agree that it should be wiped out. But are we making any sincere and concerted effort to achieve this? Though international agencies and governments are launching hundreds of schemes for poverty alleviation, the measures are half-hearted and inadequate. They lack the power and thrust to bring beneficial results. If allowed to drift it will only increase strife and discontent in society.
We cannot wait indefinitely for a solution to this problem. Governments all over the world must have the determination, faith and will to solve the problem. A time frame is a must but often it cannot be met due to pressure of circumstances. However, we must look for areas where with the available knowledge a solution is possible.
This calls for poverty abolition objectives at the global level by international agencies. This should not be confined to economic objectives only. Any area of human activity which will help to solve the problem should be considered for laying down objectives. Broadly the objectives could cover the following areas.
Conservation of resources: This can be achieved by preventing waste and leakage of resources.
Increasing productivity of resources: This can be attained by improving techniques, methods, practices.
Allocating priorities: This can be attained by allocating more resources to produce goods and services to meet the basic necessities of the poor people.
Sustainability of population, environment, and resources: This can be achieved by persistent efforts at educating the people.
Use of available wisdom handed over through ages: Here values have a very vital role. This is least expensive, pollution free and always has a conserving impact and influence. Character has a very great role in promoting economic development. This is the least expensive but most effective tool for development. It is deeply rooted in the value system and wisdom we have inherited over the ages.
Unfortunately in the name of perverse primitive misconceptions in the name of modernity this factor is neglected by leaders who owe their positions and success due to negation of this. Instead many of them silently worship criminality and embezzlement. If we see the real factor behind the success of great men who have demonstrated real leadership, we will be convinced they were men of character and their actions were deeply rooted in a rich value system. They derived strength from spirituality. They served the people.
They shook the world facing challenges, overcoming them and lived a life of sacrifice. They enjoyed the happiness arising from a sense of fulfilment. World leaders have to set examples and others in the hierarchy will follow. Thousands of pages can be written on the role of character, values and spirituality in ensuring world prosperity. But what is required is an ounce of practice rather than a ton of theory or talk.
The present trend, in some countries of discouraging or even penalising law abiding citizens and those who lake care of themselves with least burden to the state, should give way to a state of motivating them to live a socially useful life and to contribute to the growth of society.
The sooner we act the easier will be our progress towards poverty alleviation. The rich have to take the lead in renouncing the low priority areas of resource utilization. They will do well to release resources or the pressure on resources, to make available essential goods and services for the really poor.
Unless a sincere attempt is made we will continue to bury the problem of poverty under the carpet and poverty abolition will be confined to efforts and talks in five star hotels by brain starved governments. Renunciation of too much enjoyment by all is a must. Let us pray that this situation will not continue and wisdom will dawn on our leaders who profess to be champions of poverty alleviation.