- Though India has made tremendous economic progress since its 75 years of independence, it continues to face numerous challenges as it strives to uplift its population.
“Poverty is not just a lack of money; it is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.”
This quote by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen encapsulates a deeper consequence of poverty on human beings. Though India has made tremendous economic progress since its 75 years of independence, it continues to face numerous challenges as it strives to uplift its population. Among many pressing issues, one that stands out is the need to eradicate poverty. According to the UNDP-Oxford University’s report of October 2022, about 228.9 million people in India live below the poverty line. That is about 12.7 percent of the population earning less than Rs. 1,000 ($12.20) a month.
What are the causes of poverty?
The major reasons for poverty in India are the increasing population of 51 births per minute, staggering unemployment rate of 8.11%, dwindling resources, and socioeconomic inequality. Since the population is dramatically increasing, mostly in already poverty-stricken areas, there are not enough resources to go around. On top of that, unemployment rates are also rising because the number of working-age people outweighs the number of available jobs.
What does poverty look like?
On my recent trip to India in 2022, while shopping at a local complex with my mom, a skinny, frail, 7-year-old girl approached us and asked if we could give her food. I was shocked and couldn’t comprehend how someone might not have money to buy food. Seeing this, my mother ordered food for her family of 4. That was when I experienced what poverty looked and felt like.
How can we help?
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” YOU can be that change in three simple ways:
1. Create Awareness: I would never have known about the extreme poverty in India had my parents not taken me there every year. Since then, whenever I travel to India, I donate my gently used clothes to children of domestic help in my grandparents’ house. An easy way that you can spread awareness about this issue is by sharing stories of the harsh reality of impecunious communities in India. Another way to help is by donating clothes, toys, toiletries, or other household products to nonprofits working to eradicate poverty.
2. Sponsor a child: Several organizations in the U.S. and India are working to alleviate poverty. For example, in 2021, the Smile Foundation, an Indian nonprofit, provided food and clothing to 100,000 impoverished children in rural areas. These worthwhile nonprofits can operate because of donations from people like us. You can sponsor a child’s education and well-being for $200, which is equivalent to 30 Starbucks drinks. This month, instead of getting coffee every morning, donate money to sponsor a child’s education.
3. Share skills: Americans can partner with reputable nonprofits that conduct workshops on skills such as communication, negotiation, fundraising, etc. By equipping individuals with relevant skills, they can enhance employability and promote entrepreneurship, thereby empowering people to generate income and break free from the cycle of poverty. For example, the Sarva Vidya Foundation, a nonprofit in India, helps underprivileged women earn nursing diplomas and teaches them necessary life skills, including driving, mechanics, and technology.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Poverty is a curse that affects peoples’ well-being, confidence, and potential. Even if you can help just one person get out of poverty, it makes a difference. By spreading awareness, sponsoring a child, and sharing skills, you can be the change to stop poverty in India.
Aarshi Chaudhary of Newbury Park, California, is the middle school winner of India Philanthropy Alliance’s 2023 Youth Essay Competition. She will be gifting her $1,000 award to Surya-Chandra Foundation.