Friday, September 12, 2014

Divided by Destiny

At one point I was working in projects in the smaller cities and rural area of Maharashtra. I used to travel to those places often. I happen to be in an inauguration function, where there were heavyweight political leaders. It was like a fare out there. There were couple of thousand people from nearby villages, coming to see and hear political bigwigs. One of my friend was accompanying me and one of the plan of the day was to do some photography. As part of that we just happened to meet some people from a makeshift colony of laborers. Looking at the camera in our hand, they got excited and invited us to take some of their photographs. They thought we are from some news agency, and there is an opportunity to get published in a paper. They were living in a makeshift hut with hardly 4 by 4 feet of space and for sure you cannot stand in the house. I just compared that with the big cars that
passed before us taking the influential people. Probably the cost of fuel to bring one of them to the place would be good enough to feed the whole colony for once.
I am not complaining about rich being very rich. It's actually good for the society to have rich people, because it increases the chance of entrepreneurship. There is nothing wrong in being rich. And there are very good rich people out there.
But I do have a complain for the society for poor being very poor. Cannot we develop some sort of economic and social system which guarantees a minimum standard of living to everyone. We can at least assure everyone gets a good meal, cloths to cover and a decent place to live, what we call a home.
The big question is how we can achieve this? The western countries has achieved it to an extent by building an extensive Social security system. However that system is building a burden now on the government. Also with increasing life span, it is becoming harder to sustain everyone. If we look broadly into the systems that have played a role in this, than we can put capitalism and the socialism at two ends. At conceptual level, socialism is supposed to be better in this respect. But history shows that, the socialism has proven to be not successful in that respect. It has brought undue power to a small set of people. At concept level, capitalism looks bad as it promotes competition to such levels that it becomes difficult for a weaker entity to survive. However capitalism keeps the opportunity with everyone to excel, at any point.
I think this divide cannot be solved by pushing the philosophies from top level. We will have to change the way we are trying to solve this problems. We will have to solve this problem by inverting it and solving. We will have to make sure that everyone in the society gets the basic minimum education and understands his or her rights in the society. Also they get an appreciation of the fact that they also have opportunities to rise. When I talk about education, it's not about teaching History, Science or Geography. But we have to teach them the basic concepts of life and that they have a choice in life, if they wish to exercise. Education can be a big differentiators in the life of these people.

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