A world devastated by hunger
“Poetry, we do not need you anymore.
A world devastated by hunger is too prosaic,
The full moon now reminds us of toasted bread”
Written by noted Bengali poet, Sukanta Bhattacharya in his poem “Hey Mahajibon”( Chharpatra,1948), the verse uses minimal words to express the deep agonistic emotions of the Poor. Being in abject poverty himself, he compares the hearts of a poet and that of a poor. The poor doesn’t see the beauty in Nature, the sheen of the full moon. It reminds him of the bread he ought to have, but is unable too. It reminds him of the hunger he is struggling through, and this verse, my friend, is the greatest example of the psychological condition of one subjected to poverty, for his minds revolves around basic needs of life like an animal and there is no place for art or spiritualism in his life.
Poverty isn’t the problem of the Modern day. Its roots have been ingrained from time immemorial. Whenever our race tried to progress, whenever it sought to become prosperous, it has left behind a trail of beings deprived of food, shelter, cloth and dignity. Industrialization took away millions of livelihood, colonization drained wealth and wars raised the homeless. Religions proclaimed charity, a life needless of material gains, a life devoted to the service to the poor. Political ideologies defamed free markets to be exploitative, talked about equity and self reliance, emphasised on a classless society. Monarchs, dictators, democrats-all at one point of time promised to alleviate poverty.
And look where we are today:
About half of the world survives on $2.50 a day. And in India, about 21.9% of the population is below poverty line.
My question to you, dear reader, is that if steps have been taken in the past through various institutions and if we, as a nation, presently are self sufficient in food grains, then why is poverty still prevalent across regions and well, boundaries? Does this imply that poverty has become fundamental to our lives?
Poverty is the greatest violence. Even an ant has been given those senses to find food and survive. And all we, the rational and social beings, have done is to politicise poverty. If the chronic poor are to be offered money, the offeror is found to be saint-like. Instead, if he questions poverty, he is termed as a communist.
Point is, poverty -over time- has been viewed as means to suffice ones political or social ends. The poor have been statistically represented; economists have suggested plans to alleviate them and chapters on this issue have been added to school textbook in the name of awareness.
The need of the hour, however, requires us to address the qualitative aspect of the poor. It requires imbibing in the cause of humanity at a personal level, to do our bit to bring smiles and a good night’s sleep. It requires us to be the global community, that super-state which recognises and provides opportunity to every breathing soul born to enhance their standard of living.
Let’s not depend on economists, when we can witness malnourished children begging on the streets, mothers crying over unborn children, men struggling to sustain families. Let s not make a world of the rich vs the poor, lets proceed to make a holistic view based on the rich for the poor. For the rich and the poor cannot be separated as enemies, they are part of one phenomena.