314. Eliminating poverty one poor person at a time
Whether we like it or not we all have a moral duty to leave this place better than it was when we found it. Who decides this is a duty or what if we don’t believe that to be a duty? Too bad for those who think that way because two of the fundamental duties implore citizens to do that (read all duties here) The two in question are –
1. to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities
2. to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement
Both these duties can be fulfilled only when we make a conscious attempt to share our wealth after paying taxes to promote the spirit of common brotherhood and strive towards collective activity so the nation rises to higher level of achievement. Some religions also advocate sharing wealth and some people follow those teachings and some don’t.
It is ultimately an individual choice. Gandhiji said we have enough for everybody’s need but not for everyone’s greed and that is true today much more than it was in the 1940s. So how do we leave this place a better place? How do we destroy poverty in our lifetime?
We all pay taxes and expected the government to take care of that. those days are gone. Some of us contribute to causes directly or through non-profits. Some of us do it in an organised way and some of us do it as per a whim.
Some of us believe it is impossible to eliminate poverty and some of us don’t give up trying. The answer is not in what difference it can make but in what difference we want to make. It is not about doing everything right but doing the right things (which are difficult at times) and there’s a difference.
We all create wealth by either working hard or by inheriting it. What next? Can we consciously do two things-
1. Keep aside a set amount of our income (maybe a fraction in percentage terms) and
2. Do away with unnecessary expenses (smart austerity)
It will be different strokes for different folks but if a million Indians (as individuals or couples) who earn Rs 1,50,000 a month can set aside Rs 18,000 a year ( that is Rs 1500 a month, Rs 50 a day), it can take care of a basic meal for a family of four – that’s a million families saved from hunger.
In addition, if we chose to not waste money on wild revelry with colors, fire crackers and decorations during key festivals for 5 years assuming 100 million Indians spend an average of Rs 100 for these festivals we have Rs 10 billion a year.
This is easier said than done but it’s possible. It needs a movement of being open and inclusive. I gave up TV consciously in 2010 for a four year period period (a decision I may review at the end of 4 years) and decided that the cable rent and television EMI I saved each month was a good Rs 12,000 a year which will go to provide fees to two deserving girls in a school in my home town)
I started out small in 2004 to set aside 1% of my Rs 2,00,000 annual income which was Rs 2,000/- and today contribute a percentage of my annual income which in Rupee terms is approximately Rs 50,000 a year that focus on 7 individuals through four organisations, each year. Not a big deal but it’s possible.
This blog is written purely with the intention to inspire and question some of the wild traditions we follow while a hungry child cries somewhere.