In the previous post of Jan part 1 of 24 – I was ruminating on thoughts that relate to poverty and said in one of the paragraphs that “it is through true in depth analysis and understanding of poverty that will help us deal with "real" public health challenges that we face in our day to day undertakings and have to solve in coming years.” I think this should be the approach when we try to understand the factors that contribute in the genesis of "perennial" poverty in any impoverished community/geography or state. While in Jan part 2 of 24 - I was trying to understand what contributes to poverty at an individual or family level. In this discourse – I tried to discuss the kind of understanding that relates with behavioral science, where one of the theories known popularly as “social cognitive theory” states the human behavior in any community or society is as a result of interplay between one’s personality and the kind of environment he or she lives in. In a way – this theory makes a sense when we see around us why one has to suffer? We know that the challenge to understand the root cause of poverty at your personal and academic level is a huge undertaking, however, it is needed and have felt acutely otherwise our engagement in this field of new public health with evolving global health security would be incomplete and meaningless !!
For this post, therefore, I think it is right to share some observation I made while coming back from our office using a public vehicle. Interestingly, I came across “convincingly” a beautiful advertisement for a gym center which read:
"Yesterday, you said tomorrow!!"
It is with these thoughts popping up in your mind, I read a very good book on "Understanding the origins of power, prosperity and poverty - Why Nations Fail". This is a good book I recommend to anyone if you are interested to understand the idea of poverty. In this book - contrary to my usual understanding, the authors tries to argue that "poverty or why some nation state fails to prosper" is not limited to "geography, culture and ignorance" rather it is a complex interplay of all these factors which is compounded by "extractive" political and "economic" machinery that has rooted in the country. It further says that in such state or community - it is hard for any innovative ideas to flourish because such ideas are thwarted as a threat to status quo. In saying so, it states that "idea of poverty"could be understood through "understanding" the interplay of political as well as economic engine of the state or community. So how do I connect and make sense of what this book is trying to explain with the poetic theme of this post "Yesterday, you said tomorrow!!" Well, for me, I think any social or political or economic mismanagement has root in us and particularly - it starts from your home and also notably your education. As we know, a family is collection of individuals who are related by birth and social ties. Further, when families are living in a village together forms a village. Many villages combining together forms a further unit in geography which could be based on local, regional or national relevance. The point is that whatever the culture of political or economic undertaking starts from us and our home. That means, if we are SMART enough to understand and use every aspect of our personal management (time, resources, ideas or culture, language) well then it does contribute positively to your family, which in turn affects the community. But if say we have a serious problem of saying "tomorrow" for everything then there starts stress, which later allows all sort of confusion to rise at personal, familial or societal level. This is what I see in our day to day life, while we tend to express this confusion in terms of ill spirit or undertaking of something evil. Therefore, in my simple understanding that "poverty" is an outcome of saying tomorrow for any task assigned for ourselves. And also, we can say poverty starts at your mindset. In this understanding, what I can say for our country would be that we are in deep sleeping with starts of "tomorrows" rather than today and now. This is one aspect of seeing or trying to explain "an idea of poverty". This is one way of looking at it but over continuous discourse, it may be more than this simple explanation. The discourse is open. After all - it is with open / transparent discussion and debate we can dissect the root cause of any social problems that we face in current space and time - that is "poverty" in terms of physical and psychological outcome.
For next post - let us try to understand the factors that may play a role in "brewing" poverty one by one:
- The poverty trap
- Physical geography
- Fiscal trap
- Governance failures
- Cultural barriers
- Lack of Innovation
- Demographic trap
Seoul - 13 Feb, 2016