The door slammed behind me as the gushing mountain winds made it very clear that they are going to decide the course of things for me this morning. I walked down three floors very carefully to save myself from another mishap of tumbling down the entire flight of stairs in one go. I pushed myself into the car and started my Uber ride like all the other mornings. I saw a bunch of strays right outside my society trying to enter the posh society where the ‘food’ is and the poor security guards shooing them away. I see it as a classic example of how our society operates.
We all talk about poverty, we all know it is real, we know where the real problem lies and its not in one place, its all around us. We have our own definition of ‘Poor’ and what should be done about it. While some of us make a move and make a small change every now and then; in India I see it as a TV time discussion when something crops up about the poor state of our country or corruption even in this area or a talk show host going gaga about something a single person has achieved surviving against all odds involved due to politics.
Indians comprise of 17% of the world population and have more than 20% of the world’s poor, what does it say about the country? If you are like me, if you are like so many others who have the best of education options, house, food and take an Uber to ‘glide’ from one place to other, you see abjection, in your face, literally everywhere! There is no hiding anymore. When I stop at a traffic light in the heart of Connaught Place in Delhi, I see huts on the sidewalks. I see babies crawling on the footpath beneath the baking sun. As much as it pains me, you and I can not even start to fathom the magnitude of the sad state of affairs.
The rift between the rich and poor has distended so much due to our own ignorance that its becoming harder each day for the small section of the society that cares to make a difference. We have made education, when I say education, I mean proper education in a classroom with books and teachers, extremely expensive and out of the reach of the less fortunate. The free education provided by the Government has been reduced to crippled school buildings sans any furniture or a proper teacher to educate the young minds. Price of basic food supplies have sky rocketed in the past ten years which is worsening the dire situation. We are unconsciously ripping away the basic rights that the destinies deserve.
The political gurus will talk about statistics and boast about how the poverty rate is decreasing but is that rosy picture true? Its not complete at least. Studies show that the number of people under Government’s welfare plans have almost tripled who majorly formed the BPL category earlier. They do not come under the BPL (below poverty line) category by the virtue of such programs. The question here remains unanswered then; are we really improving or giving temporary crutches to these people without any solid intention to uplift them permanently from this dark void that we have created ourselves for them?
My cousin recently met with an accident and he was transferred to the nearby government hospital with his wife who was bleeding profusely. Nobody attended them for 6 hours! Can you imagine what the scenario must be everyday when the less fortunate people of the society who can not afford private hospitals turn up at these hospitals? Brings tears to my eyes.
There is no perfect solution to this multi facet problem that is glaring at us. But we not even as responsible citizens but as humans for other estranged humans, should share a little of what we have. Money, time, efforts, anything at all which is under our control. When I go to the huts and dilapidated houses of the beneficiaries of my humble nonprofit, I see pure happiness and a will to work through adversities to make ends meet. I see conviction and twinkle in the eyes of those young faces to make something of their lives and to change their sad state. I love how excited they sound when we talk about future and what endless possibilities it holds for them.
Though in a small way, we focus on each dimension of the well being of these people and uplift them. We are not champions but not docile either, we take a stand when a small highly superstitious group of adults try to stop development from happening in their community. We fight, we strive, we advocate change to uplift and transform.
Do we do enough? No. Can we do more? Yes! Do we get the support we need? Sometimes. We draw our strength from each and every member of the apostolate who joins us in our journey and makes it special in their own little ways. We get great advice, we get special funds for special causes, we get volunteers and most of all, the support of our Founder who relentlessly runs this program and his spirits keeps us all motivated.
I get aggrieved, saddened and very disheartened when I see the state of things in India right now, but I also see people getting immune to scenes of a small baby on the verge of dying on the road side or an old man struggling to walk but begging; in the name of not being capable or big enough a force to stop it everywhere in the country, you can’t hide. The cost of life in this country has stooped down even more. Every life is important and there is no way or reason to emphasize it to anybody. Our nonprofit struggles with politics and corruption to get some money for the right causes which fills me with despondency.
Can’t we at least let the poor live with dignity? What good will bribe money do to someone which has been snatched away from a poor man and his right to eat or live. Don’t settle in and get comfortable in the luxury of your life, do your bit and raise consciousness around you. If you can’t, give me a call, I will be happy to talk to people who are interested in making a small but a a strong impactful change in this world. Yes, we have to stand united. There is no hiding anymore………….
‘Hazaaron khwaahishen aisi,
Ki har khwaaish pe dam nikle,
Bahut Nikle mere armaan,
Par fir bhi kam nikle’
You can find out about our work here: http://franciscanfamilyapostolate.org/