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Here’s How Poverty is Being Normalized in Indian Society

The Problem of Normalizing Poverty

BY NEHA HEGDE

We often knowingly or unknowingly think in a way where the opinion about poverty is that poverty is destined to be. Maybe we are used to these kinds of discussions where we just try to accept that poverty is a part of our country and never really had an urge to overcome it. The biggest problem is accepting that problems will always exist and we can’t do anything about it. This conclusion is actually dangerous, maybe not as an individual but as a whole, it will have effects on society. 

The sheer scale of human suffering leads one to naturalize it. It is hard for an individual to bring change, we just expect someone else to do it, perhaps, the state to do it. If we talk about the opportunities, we have denied it as their right and subjected them to violence giving reasons for laziness and irresponsible behavior. 

When we think poverty is meant to be, then eradicating it, is the last thing possible. The neo-middle-class and the upper class of this society ought to share their privileges instead of taking them granted. Sharing here doesn’t mean that they lie on a pedestal, it just means that there must be no hierarchy.

How Poverty is Defined in Our Nation? 

There is a flaw in how poverty is defined. We have two committees that have reported about poverty in India. 

Suresh Tendulkar Committee Rangaraj Committee
Year 2009 2013
Rural Expenditure 27/day 32/day
Urban Expenditure 33/day 47/day
Total no. of poor 269 million 363 million

If a person earns as per the above table then he or she is not poor according to the respective committee reports. The so-called committees appointed to report use the word “normative” and estimate that this expenditure is adequate to live in a household. 

We have many voluminous learned reports, we have seen recurring planning and budgeting for decades now. It’s the 21st century, we still have people striving for basic living. 

Let us take the case where a person earns Rs 47 per day which constitutes up to Rs 1410 per month in an Indian city today, for any roof over someone’s head in a slum of a metropolis will cost a minimum of Rs 1000 to Rs 1200 per month.  With the remaining amount a kilogram of rice costs Rs 20-30, Vegetable cost for a week even if it is the most basic then it will be up to Rs 200. Milk being Rs 21 per liter is out of the discussion. Where is the basic nutritious food which every human deserves?  A single bus ticket will cost Rs 10 -15.  What about education? What about healthcare?

Overall, what about a basic plain life with human dignity? 

Poverty
Many people of designated castes are forced to earn a living as scavengers even if the practice is outlawed. Flickr

The Practice of Manual Scavenging 

Our nation has the time, intellectual, budget, etc to accomplish Space Missions and other Technological advancements but still practices sending men into the drainage. 2019 saw the highest number of manual scavenging deaths in the past five years. 110 workers were killed while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. The degrading of human dignity is not a new thing in India.

Also Read: Here’s How a Gadget Can Eliminate 99% of Airborne Viruses

India’s poor face many exiles. They are uprooted from the consciences of the people of privilege, from our cinema, television, and newspapers, from the priorities of public expenditure and government, from debates in Parliament and offices, from institutions that could offer them some basic security through education, healthcare, and social security. And, they are exiled from the hope that their children or their grandchildren will one day escape a life of back-breaking toil and social humiliation. This last one is the most profound of their exiles. 

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