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Measures to eradicate poverty
India, with a billion plus population has a booming economy, more than half of its population feature in the world's richest list. But still poverty remains the biggest menace today and each of us can help eradicate poverty from our society

THE OTHER day I was reading an article titled, ’Mother Teresa and the joy of giving,’ published in The Hindu (Chennai edition) dated August 26, 2008 (Tuesday) page nine. This article is about a book written by Navin Chawla, election commissioner of India, a former IAS officer, titled ’Mother Teresa: The Authorised Autobiography’. I liked the way the writer had projected the service group of Mother Teresa as a Multi-National Organisation (MNC) with a difference. Since, many of us know the multifold noble deeds that are associated with ’Missionaries of Charity’, an organisation started by Mother Teresa many years ago, I am penning down, in brief, a few important areas of activities conducted by this MNC along with a few Mother Teresa’s quotes and some statistical figures, before I pen my views on how to follow Mother’s footsteps to completely root out poverty from this country:

  • A total of 758 of Mother Teresa’s Homes are spread all over the world; out of which 214 are in India and 514 are overseas. They have presence in 134 countries. The total strength of their nuns is 4912. The number of men (Brothers of the Order) is 367 who work in India and 20 other countries.
  • The writer had expressed concern to Mother Teresa, when she was alive, as to how the organisation, which she had built from scratch, and which has now spread all over the globe, will be sustained, after her passing away. Here, the reply given by the Mother is worth noting: In her own words, addressing the writer: “You have been to so many of our Homes (branches) in India and abroad. Everywhere the Sisters wear the same saris, eat the same kind of food, do the same work, but Mother Teresa is not everywhere, yet the work goes on.” Then she added, “As long as we remain committed to the poorest of the poor and don’t end up serving the rich, the work will prosper.”

  • Another notable quote of Mother Teresa: “When a poor person dies of hunger, it is not because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”

  • While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Mother Teresa spoke the following words: “I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people who have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

The writer had often visited Titagarh, a place outside Kolkata, where the Sisters run an institution, which is a small township of leprosy-affected people. For years, they have been provided medication so that there is no active germs are left. But having faced the stigma for so long, they live apart from normal people. The Sisters keep them busy -- all the saris that the Missionaries of Charity’s Sisters wear are woven on their looms.

Taking a cue from the above, here are some ideas on eradicating poverty from our society:

  • Beggars are found in public places like bus stands, near railway station, around religious places, on busy streets, thoroughfares etc. Every district collector/magistrate should be empowered to identify such people with their names (names could be misleading because they may not be having a birth certificate or any other source of valid identification)

  • Once the identification process is over, the next step is to hand them over to institutions like Missionaries of Charity. Meanwhile, both the Government of India and top five hundred corporations of India (Fortune 500 companies of India can come forward under Corporate Social Responsibility) must tie up and forge an alliance with institutions like Missionaries of Charity, under Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme. The scheme should be aimed at uplifting each and every beggar in India.

  • The suggested scheme under PPP is to finetune this expertise so that each and every beggar gets a permanent shelter to live in, get proper food to eat and decent clothes to wear. Once these basic essentials are assured, he/she can be given training on jobs like weaving clothes on loom, art, crafts, handicrafts and so on with the help of mechanised / semi-mechanised machines. Additionally, the finance organisation of such missionaries ought to be of high order, which should be the driving force for corporates to donate money for such social causes.

  • The government can become the facilitator by assuring reservation of quotas for all the goods produced by the beggars. Such reservations can be done in all big malls and duty free shops. Additionally, the government can also mandate export of such products to foreign countries where people love to associate with such products because it is for a social cause.

  • Further, I can add that the above suggested PPP mode is for a very important social cause aimed at eradicating poverty completely by bringing three partners together: one is government, the second is corporate and the third missionaries/institutions like Missionaries of Charity. I am getting more and more convinced that once all these three partners come together to resolve the issue of begging within a time-frame, results would be promising. While formulating the above scheme, government and corporate houses both should aim for complete eradication of beggars from the society within a time frame through this PPP approach. There could be a need for taking the help (hiring) of doctors and psychologists. The PPP scheme should also address these issues while being framed.

    I hope I have been able to convey some doable thoughts to eradicate poverty completely from the society! I would like to end up this write up with a quote of Mother Teresa: “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I don’t know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ’How many good things have you done in your life’? Rather he will ask, ’How much love did you put into what you did’?

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pankaj paswan
thank you
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