The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:
“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.
Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action — for the poor and the wealthy alike — a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”
The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation puts it more simply: –
Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough money. [Courtesy: New Brunswick Canada]
Most of us have never been hungry for days, unbathed, unwashed, with tatters on our backs and the open sky as a roof to sleep. We have never been so hopeless to have carried the carcass of hope to its funeral and come to terms with the fact that hope is indeed dead!
So let us find and try to correct some of the fundamental flaws humans have created into their complex civilization. That has given rise to such deep divides of the Rich & Poor.
The richest people in the world have a staggering amount of wealth — comparable to the GDP of small countries for some.
But before we end poverty we need to understand that between the rich and the poor there are other income groups which fill the gap!
And that huge population are all looking towards the rich lifestyle and aspiring to reach there. Everything is geared towards consumption and more consumption, which puts an enormous amount of stress on the planets finite resources.
And as the unmitigated consumption continues, it is but a matter of time before this finite resource will get over. But by then it would be too late to reverse the clock, pushing more and more people towards poverty.
Now, once we understand that the poorest are not in such huge numbers, and change the fundamental way in which we think, we may just be able to reduce this gap. Else it is the people in between the richest and the poorest who would keep sliding backward. With the last in the line vanishing into oblivion!
To make us understand how deep is this problem. We must look at what is happening to our resources. Let us understand what is Earth Overshoot Day.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.
To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365. [Read More]
So, as evident from the illustrated video above, that we are slowly but surely contributing amongst a host of problems; extinction of species. And Homo Sapiens ( humans) are also just another species among many which habitat Earth. And like it or not the laws of Earth applies to us too!
So, as long as we keep consuming the way we are doing at present, the last man in the line of poverty is just…Disappearing!
So, what difference does it make to the human society should the poor die?
Well, they are the blue collared workers in the factories, the invisible conservancy worker who cleans our clogged city drains of filth. The poor constitute the bulk of Maids, Newspaper vendors, Sweepers, Watchmen and Drivers in a City. They are also the invisible masons and coolie who build our infrastructure. And they are the farmers without whom we would not be able to grow a single blade of grass to feed ourselves. And finally, they are the vote bank of the political parties in India.
So, when more and more people who constitute the lower middle-class start sliding back into poverty, due to resource depletion it would create huge social upheaval which no political or social scientist would be able to contain. The promises of development would fail. And chaos will prevail.
So, what needs to be done is to frame policies which will reduce this consumption pattern?
As per the Global Footprint Network – If we reduce driving by 50% around the world and opt for walking, biking or taking public transit instead, Earth Overshoot Day would move back 10 days.
And many more such solutions lies in the hands of the cities. The global efforts for a Sustainable living will be won or lost on how Cities and its citizens behave. Below is a brief look at the % contribution of the global footprint from each Nation.
India thankfully has the least contribution to the disaster in the making. But let’s not celebrate yet. We are poised to make a quantum jump in becoming a “Developed Nation”.
The definition of a Developed Nation is one that appropriates the total world resources for its own consumption. Is wasteful and decadent in every manner possible, when looked through the prism of Sustainability.
Before I close, let us look at the infographic from WWF India & remember that in 2018 too August the 2nd would be the day the Humans would exhaust the Natural Resources which belongs to all life in this Planet.
So the question is, do we need to become Rich or we should aspire to become Wealthy?