Poverty removal through attrition of poor?

#Poverty #ResourceDistribution #India #Inequality

When we study any natural system, distributional patterns are mostly found to be gradually graded in nature. Bell curves or pyramids are common shape-metaphors that can be used to understand natural distributions.

When we look at India, a 1.3 billion strong nation with less than half a percent taxpayers, it gets difficult to imagine a similar representative shape to depict wealth or resource distribution. So, there is absolutely no doubt that there are factors at play that are defying natural distribution patterns from appearing.

As stability, that only a natural structure can provide, is crucial for long term survival of our nation; we are in dire need to figure out reasons behind the lopsided distribution that has emerged.

In nature, lop-sidedness is not entirely uncommon. If we look at marine ecology, penetration of sun-light under water being limited, near the surface one can find ecology of plenty, and as we go deep, energy-poverty leads to a Spartan ecology of extreme.

If this distribution is natural, Indian economy poses an intellectual challenge, as we have a completely opposite structure. We have few in proximity of resources and astronomically more in the environment of scarcity. While both share an economy that should, ideally allow up-down movement, we see a stagnation and consolidation of unequally even after seventy years of self-rule aimed at removing it.

If we return to nature, a strange explanation emerges that may hold the key to how our economic policies should be formed if we want to cure our nation of the malaise of uneqaulity.

While nature allows equal access to resources, the way this distribution is operated in real life is based on two main factors, i.e. life form’s proximity to resources and capacity of utilising them.

As the former factor is well recognised by economists, the standard policy-interventions are designed around re-organising access mechanisms, but we need to ponder over the later, as even though measures like infrastructure creation or reservation that can re-structure access and priority are in place, we are unable to see the transition that we would like to.

If we dive into the sea to study the deep-sea ecology of scarcity, the most striking feature we will notice is intense adaption of the creatures that exploit this environment. This, unfortunately also means that, the same creature that can thrive with almost nothing will have no real ability to do better even if it is lifted into the sunny and plentiful world of top layer of the sea.

If we translate this into Indian context, I see a strange possibility. If sunlight penetration is increased, it is unlikely to help the bottom-dwellers. What it will lead to is the top-dwellers benefiting further and displacing them.

The modernisation that we see has potential to make life even more difficult for the poorest of India as they are too well adapted to live in scarcity. If policies focus on redistribution of resources without making poor capable of using them, the most likely outcome is wastage of resources, or consumption of them by rich who are more adapted to use them. So, in the long run, we may end up removing poverty, but through extinction of poor.

Though changes in nature commonly lead to extinction of the incapable, poor people of our nation must not follow the suit. Human beings are special because we are able to adopt very fast. But if we presume that changing economic environment will automatically lead to adaptation, we could be making it worse.

What Indian poor really need is assistance in changing mind-set, and that is possible only through education. The only way to make India an even playing field exploitable by all is through offering highest quality education to the poorest of the nation absolutely free.

If we don’t, we may end up removing poverty one day, but by attrition of our poor brethren.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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