The Rich – Poor Divide
Published on: April 4, 2010 - 10:30
By Tomazinho Cardozo
Mankind has always discriminated. History is a witness to the fact that man has harassed woman, whites have hated blacks, higher castes have humiliated the lower castes, the rich controlled the poor, so on and so forth. Although all are the creations of God yet discrimination persists.
Poverty is a driving factor when it comes to discrimination. If we observe carefully blacks and the people belonging to lower castes have suffered the most. They were not given any opportunities to educate themselves. Even today, illiteracy is the highest among these people. The adverse effect of illiteracy is unemployment. Unemployment worsens the economic condition. Thus poverty continues from generation to generation. Women also suffered and their growth was suppressed. Even rich families, particularly in India, did not give the girl child all the facilities provided to the boy child. They were not exposed to education and to individual freedom as in the case of boys. Child marriages further suppressed the growth of the girl child. Thus we see that women of high caste families too experienced discrimination.
Beginning with individuals, the virus of discrimination spreads to families, communities, states and nations. Hence we find rich and poor families, communities, states and nations. Just like the rich dominate the lives of the poor in communities and the rich states dictate terms to poor states, in the same manner rich nations today make all efforts to control poor nations.
People are interdependent, even though we live on different continents within different political and economic systems. You may be wondering how you can affect the people of the Third World. There are several areas in which individual decisions of the so called developed nations can influence the relationship between rich and poor nations.
Take for example the process of land reforms in different parts of the world. Land
reforms could minimise the hunger of the people in poor countries. More than once the so called developed and rich nations have supported reactionary regimes in the less developed countries, even giving them military aid, in order to prevent land reforms. In recent times we have seen how rich nations, in the guise of protecting democracy and destruction of nuclear devices of mass destruction, have destroyed lives, properties and regimes of other developing nations. The hidden agenda of these developed nations ultimately is the protection and promotion of their own selfish interests in a particular region in the guise of 'big brotherly' attitude.
Another issue to consider is international trade. Rich nations can exploit poor nations; they have all the power and can set the terms of trade. Rich nations, for example, can set such high tariffs that poor nations cannot sell their products abroad. Such a policy protects the rich at the expense of the poor. On the other hand, when rich nations want certain goods their demands can upset the poor economies. For example, many Third World nations produce almost entirely for export. Their economies depend on export alone. Since exports are usually controlled by giant foreign corporations the interest of these giant corporations and not that of developing nations, plays an important role in this trade. In recent years, some developing nations have taken courageous steps to protect themselves against the control of multinational corporations by nationalising industries owned by outsiders.
Developing nations will have to prepare themselves for some major changes. For a long time the rich countries have been able to grow richer at the cost of poor countries. Take the example of oil. Rich nations make all the efforts to buy oil from other countries at low prices. Technology and development is based on oil. Thus rich nations would like to preserve the oil reserves of their countries for future use and at present make use of the oil from other developing countries by using all tactics that suit them well. This is exactly what's happening in the world today.
But all this is changing now. Oil won't be cheap again. Oil prices are bound to escalate. Oil producing countries have the potential to be the world powers. So also there are many other nations, including India, with vast natural resources, which have the capability of become world powers. Thus the equation of rich and poor nations is bound to change in times to come.
Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi
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