Nurturing Young Minds

Nurturing Young Minds

Friday, June 17, 2011

Erasing the Poverty Line in 2 years: The Story of the Quest: Part 2

    I recall the day in Wakefield, England when I was waiting at the bus station for a boarding a bus to London. That was 1996. A Briton sitting next to me, who was also waiting for his bus, asked me which country I was from. “India”, I replied. He looked at the sky trying to recall where the country was located. After a few seconds, he was able to vaguely recall the country with some difficulty. “India.. that poor country?”, he murmured and then looked at me. I did not know precisely how to respond, since until then I had great ideas about my country. I had always thought the country must be known abroad as one of the oldest civilisations, which produced all marks of human advancement including poetry, mathematics, health sciences and surgery, music, a developed religion and philosophy much before today’s advanced  nations and the Greeks woke up to the light of civilisation. It was a rude shock to me to find that the most important thing about my country to mention was its poverty. Soon I realised that it was a matter-of-fact statement, not one inspired by malice, even though the questioner’s country itself was largely responsible for colonising, and impoverishing India.
    This incident instigated me to probe the issue of Indian poverty a little deeply when I returned to India after one and a half month of stay in England. Since then, seeing India poverty-free became one of the missions of my life. However, my interest in the phenomenon of Indian poverty was less academic than practical: it consisted in finding the action blueprint that would lead to making India free from poverty. Yet, there cannot be a solution to a complex problem until the problem is understood in detail, and in its various dimensions. Hence, I began the study of poverty in general and Indian poverty in particular.
    Before returning to India, I had been to a jail in West Yorkshire to see how the prisoners were trained for earning a living when they left the jail. The arrangements were remarkable; as remarkable as any arrangement based on common sense would be. They were, for example being trained in wall plastering. The plaster styles created by the prisoners were better than the ones found in five star hotels in India. Not that the prisoners themselves created it; they were given the right material and training for creating the styles. They were told about the best practices, and the bad practices; the all the do’s and don’ts. The plasters from the walls were regularly taken off, and fresh plastering done by new prisoners. The training to prisoners was expected to be such as would give them an edge when they went out in the open market to compete with other plaster-masons. That was the real training to help them with a profitable livelihood. In Indian jails, or elsewhere in India, I have seen nothing of the kind. Not that the technologies were not available in India: the Indians did not have the right attitude towards excellence in vocational training. 

No comments:

Post a Comment