Despite being the fourth largest economy in the world, a large percentage of India’s population lives in absolute poverty, earning a meager $1 a day. People around the country are involved in multiple occupations, ranging from textiles and agriculture to handicrafts and information technology. While there is certainly no lack of skilled labor in India, there is a lack of literacy amongst the nation’s poor resulting from the financial inability to acquire a proper education. This creates a vicious cycle, where generation upon generation of underpriviledged individuals are unable to obtain the education they require to become successful in the rapidly expanding India of today.
In a recent BBC interview, Indian finance minister Chidambaran Palaniappan points out that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening due to the country’s rapid economic growth. He suggests that the rampant poverty in India could be absolved by the year 2040, and that the booming economy is highly suggestive of future generations of wealthier individuals. In addition, he predicts that education, medical care, and essentials such as food, clothing, and shelter will be readily available to the masses in the next three decades.
These are rather bold statements to make, considering the current extent of illiteracy and the lack of aforementioned amenities to the general public. Eradicating poverty by 2040 would mean a complete revitilization of multiple facets, including a better system not only to accomodate underpriviledged students but to do so purely on the basis of need and intellect and not caste. This in itself could prove to be a daunting task since admission requirements to institutions higher education still vary for different castes. Also, in order for the public to experience adequate medical attention, there would need to be an influx of medical facilities to accomodate the millions more that will require medical care in the next thirty years.
While Mr. Palaniappan’s optimism is not hard to dimish, it must be noted that his predictions are somewhat plausible. India’s economic boom is fuelled by a generation of bright, English-speaking workers and professionals. This combination of skill and Engligh language proficiency allows them to work remotely for foreign companies in call centers and customer service departments, and pursue careers ranging from IT domain to business environments in India as well as abroad.
However, there is still the matter of giving people the opportunity to reach this level of success, and this requires a drastic initiative to provide high quality education to the masses. There is a chance for dissolving poverty in India, but it will prove difficult to accomplish this task in three decades.