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World issue: Poverty - Essay Example

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At the World Summit on Social Development organized at Copenhagen in 1995, the United Nations agreed on the definition of poverty as ‘a denial of choices and opportunities’ and ‘a violation of human dignity’ (Gordon 4). These broad concepts of ‘opportunities’ and…
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World issue: Poverty
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Poverty and its Many Faces At the World Summit on Social Development organized at Copenhagen in 1995, the United Nations agreed on the definition of poverty as ‘a denial of choices and opportunities’ and ‘a violation of human dignity’ (Gordon 4). These broad concepts of ‘opportunities’ and ‘dignity’ are usually measured, perhaps inadequately so, in economic terms for governmental and other official purposes. However, poverty has psychological, social and cultural ramifications as well that theorists have recently begun to explore more seriously.
Poverty brings with it various effects. As monetary independence and security determines levels of education, health, mortality, physical conditions of existence, among many other things, its absence or strain causes not just poverty of the pocket but devastation of one’s general well-being. Prolonged poverty causes severe malnutrition, lack of awareness about one’s environment, whether political, ecological, social, or otherwise. It brings with higher vulnerability, so that in countries like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India or even a prosperous country like China, the poorest sections of society are the most vulnerable to terrorists, insurgents, political usurpers, moneylenders, police brutality, state apathy, and so on. Poverty can also cause severely low self-esteem among individuals, a deadly side-effect that is yet to be measured in practical terms and addressed.
Among the various opinions on what causes poverty, David Satterthwaite argues for the link between urban environment and poverty, especially in countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Satterthwaite posits that it is the consumption patterns of the middle-income and high-income groups that lead to environmental factors damaging to health; coupled with governments’ inability to tackle these issues, the brunt of the damage caused by these consumption patterns lies on the poor. Environmental hazards like ‘biological pathogens, chemical pollutants, and physical hazards (1)’ are considered among the top contributors to prolonged poverty in these areas.
Another social ill that poverty goes hand in hand with is the rise of street dwellers. Slums, homeless people, street children, beggary, these are all problems at the root of which lies inefficient management of poverty.
Generosity on the part of individuals, along with the rigorous work of non-governmental agencies at removing poverty, spreading education, providing basic amenities to the poor and so on can go a long way in reducing the issue. The government, of course, has perhaps the most significant role to play in this regard. It has control over state finances, law and policies that can enable it to gradually phase out the monstrosity on human dignity that poverty can become.
The media, art and culture forums can also take up the cause of poverty more seriously so as to bring the attention of the masses, especially the upper-income groups, to the crisis. A combined effort of all these organs, at the individual as well as the national and international level will help to slowly overcome this problem if done with integrity and efficiency.
As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty’, in his preface to his play Major Barbara. It is time we heeded the words of this wise man and began to cure this cancer called poverty.
Gordon, David. ‘Indicators of Poverty and Hunger.’ Expert Group Meeting on Youth Development Indicators. UN Headquarters, New York. 12-14 Dec. 2005. Web.
Satterthwaite, David. ‘The Links between Poverty and the Environment in Urban Areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.’ Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 590 (Nov. 2003). 73-92. Print. Read More
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