10 July 2008

Pro-Poor vs Anti-Poverty

Every government in our country aims to be pro-poor. I do not understand this. Why should any government be pro-anybody. Are we all not equals in law? Then why are the law-makers pro-poor? Poverty is the default state of any society. Wealth has to be created. People, by default, are poor. They need to make money (wealth) and accumulate wealth. In any sane society, accumulating or creating means (i.e wealth) to procure goods for survival is a man's fundamental duty. By tagging itself to the poor, government is siding a losing cause., and much worse, it is aiming the wrong cause.

When do we say India does not have any poor? In 1980s, people who did not own a radio were considered poor. In 2000s, people who did not own a black-and-white television were considered poor. Now, most of these people own color tv's. If we take 1950 standards, India would be almost rid of its poor instantly. But unfortunately, government does not consider so. This is like a race where the finish line moves faster than the runners. Who can win such a race? What is the objective of such an effort? Does the government have an agenda, like we will help poor till 90% of people earn more than 3000/- pm or that we will help poor till 2050 etc or a list of 20 million or so people and their details, whom it'll help till they grow over poverty? When do we end this charity?

A typical example of this is the CPI/CPM (Left)'s stand on small traders. Before the retail business was opened to corporates, Left had criticized small traders for having huge margins and eating into the Producer's (farmers) pie. Now with Reliance, Bharti, Heritage etc., venturing into Retail space, the culprits have become the victims. Now Left is sympathysing with the petty traders, saying that corporates are eating to the trader's pie.

This agenda of supporting anyone who is poor, without an iota of thought on the rationale behind it or the objectivity to define who is right and whose right is it, is the cause of our mis-fortune. Poverty can end, if we define it, measure it and take steps for its eradication. Atleast we could hope to reduce the high prevelance of poverty. But, Poor will always exist. There will always be poor people and rich people, because not everybody is equal in ability, timing or luck.

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