The Unending Cycle of Poverty

India is a booming economy with its GDP experiencing growth every year. Even then, no new jobs are created and the youth stay unemployed. In a country filled with thousands of talented individuals, and millions of graduates, we still find it difficult to land a job. The sub-par education system that although gives a degree but no practical knowledge, the class system or sexism. What is to blame?

A survey shows only 2% of all Asians have job satisfaction. An activity that consumes more than half our waking hours, should be bearable, to say the least, if not enjoyable.But in an environment where if you do not work, you cannot survive, is it really possible to quit your job and follow your passion? Here some of the reasons our youth stay unemployed, hungry and poor.

  • Wealth Inequality : In the US too, the top 1% of the richest own 43% of the wealth. The next 4%, 29%. The next 15% hold 21% and the last 80% hold only 7% of the wealth. The scenario isn’t different when it comes to land. The top richest 5% own more than 50% of the US land. The statistics also show that the richest often are white men and the poorest, marginalized groups such as women of colour and the LGBTQ community. It is no different in India. The richest own around 70% of our country’s wealth.
  • Class inequality: The minimum wage hasn’t risen for years now, and even then the contractors do not care enough to pay the workers the minimum wage. Outsourcing manual labour from countries like Thailand, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India is one of the most degrading ways of exploitation. Companies based in the US, especially textile companies such as H&M, forever21, zara and many more get their clothes made in our countries and then have them sold for $20+ in the US, whereas the worker that makes these clothes are often paid less than a dollar an hour where they make 15+ shirts/ hour. Some margin of this profit money is then donated back to our countries that are often referred to as shit hole countries by them. The workers, often marginalized women, are not only economically exploited, but also physically because the traders are often men that employ these women. The women, unemployed, uneducated and poor, are forced to take up these jobs to feed their family. In villages, these women are often burned on the pyre of their dead, older, abusive husbands and God forbid they escape from that hell, often land up in such places that pay them hardly enough to get by.
  • The Quota system : The quota system for the OBC and SC, ST classes is often criticised by the elite and also the middle class. The middle class general category often do not get seats because of very high cut offs and no subsidy. Although seats are reserved for the SC, ST and OBC, there is no requirement for submission of documents that prove that the beneficiaries are poor. So the rich and the middle class OBC, ST,SC get seats because often they are the only ones capable of affording the fees. In the end only the rich and upper middle class end up benefitting because of quotas and also end up bagging seats in the general category. Some people even go to the extent of taking up a seat in the general category to make sure that a seat in the reserved category is saved. The poor keep protesting on the streets for rights of their children and the elite in return will always have their influencial tea parties where they can complain about how difficult life is for rich people, and the government, like always, can assure them that justice will be given, and then disappear for the next 5 years.
  • School : The only education that the poor can afford in India, is in the municipality schools. The education in Indian schools is sub par, and by Indian, I mean municipality run. The syllabus is outdated, to the extent that it could be called ancient. There are practically no practical subjects. The tests are based on memorization instead of  understanding. The teachers are uninterested, the parents are busy and inattentive and the students are carefree. In an environment where the special is punished and the ordinary encouraged, a child obviously learns very early on that it is best to be ‘normal’. A system where students are graded by letters, the same way products are in a factory, how did we expect these children to come out talented and inspired?
  • Child Labour: Although the Indian government has passed laws stating that children under 14 should not be made to work, the penalty for the employer is only 2 years in jail. Children often work not because they want to, but because they have to, either due to an early sense of responsibility or because they are forced to. Child trafficking is not uncommon in India, especially in regions where parents treat their children like cattle and not humans, the children are often smuggled off to a terrible place where they are made to beg by breaking their bones so that the people pity them, or worse, sold for sex trafficking. The children, by the time they can finally run away and pay off the debt of their kidnappers, have forgotten where they lived and are too tired to hope for a better future. In a country where almost all sex work is forced, the government turns an eye towards this entire ‘business’ because it benefits them. If found, a sex worker will be charged instead of her rapist (client).
  • Unemployment: The youth unemployment rate is about to be 40% all over the world. This means that only 6 in 10 young people will be employed (including self-employed and businessmen/women). In a day and age where working is essential to merely survive, and not live a comfortable life, this is disastrous. Automation is taking over us, and as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, we should be excited about it. But we aren’t, because though it will make work and production more efficient and cost effective, it will lay off millions of people, who now will be unemployed, hence poor, hence unable to pay for basic necessities and hence will die. Our Constitution says every human has the basic human right to live, but in a day and age where even graduates cannot find jobs, it seems impossible for people to survive.
  • Depression : Billions of people wake up every day, not having access to clean water and food. When a family is struggling to make ends meet and does not even know where the next meal will come from, how does the government expect them to afford psychologists and psychiatrists? One session costs a minimum of Rs. 1500, the amount which is some family’s monthly income. And this is in urban areas, the scenario in rural areas is worse. Even if one could afford the fees, the social stigma surrounding depression is in itself a huge problem.
  • Sewage cleaners: A recent documentary on sewage cleaners showed how thousands of people in Mumbai itself die because of toxic gases released from the sewage. The workers are provided no safety measures and often die before the age of 50. They often end up drinking and using drugs from the money earned because they cannot stand to go inside the drains sober. Their children start working in these areas at a very young age too. The women often paid much less than the men, end up not being able to pay for their medical bills. If the children manage to get into good schools through either the quota system or due to merit, cannot afford the fees later on, or are not able to cope up with the studies because they have to work after school hours.
  • The prestigious language : English, is spoken only by 10% of the Indian population, even then, it is considered a status symbol. Many engineers do not end up having jobs, their rejection letter, citing ‘lack of communication skills’, which indirectly means that the applicant does not speak English.

These are only few reasons why people are stuck in the circle of poverty. With bad diet, terrible education, social status and most importantly, lack of opportunities, poor people’s children often end up poor. That however is not a reflection on the poor, but the rich, elite and entitled. Of the middle class and privileged. Because it is us who refuse to see the power parity and help them. Like an economist once said, “The real tragedy of the poor, is the poverty of their dreams.”

And though it is convenient, for the rich to give out quotes like, “all of us have 24 hours” or that “work till you die” in a culture especially focused at earning more and more, not realising it is absolutely absurd for any entity, organisation or family to have such an insane amount of wealth. A person who has chores to complete, children to take care of, do have the same 24 hours. Old people don’t, the daily wage labourers don’t, the disabled don’t. Like the poor has proven to us, the hardworking don’t necessarily get rich or acknowledged.

This Article is Written By : Drishti

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