Nov 16, 2012

Urban Underprivileged segment-what can we do for them?

While you are driving down the busy city lanes sometime of the year someday, from there to somewhere, busy negotiating ruthless traffic, busy minding the gap, minding your own business, busy processing next to-do-list on your mental map, driving with occasional subconscious glimpse of buzzing city with all that glam and beauty and buzz and noise and colors; glimpse of the city with constant familiar flux; suddenly on the footpath, on the next turn, on the traffic junction or on the dim corner of street you spot a poor deprived child, a beggar in patchwork cloth, an old discarded person or a doped fainted soul, often pretentiously indifferent but sometime being concerned it comes to your mind, what can you do for them? Why they are in that state? What opportunities they lacked? What is their future? What is the way out for them?  Is there someone listening to them? Apparently it’s not their first choices to be there in that unpleasant state!

No matter how rich, how well off, how busy you are in your own life you must have come across such instance and have thought at least for once that what can you do for them? There might be policies, might be schemes for their revival but they might not be aware of such things, there might be some poster of welfare scheme to rescue them from that situation posted right at the display board of that bus stop but may be they don’t know how to read, no one told them either, may be they are educated but they lack a caring hand to push them towards a better life, may be the sheer number of them making it difficult for city administrations to deal with them, may the same sheer number of them calls for restructuring of public welfare policies and re-engineering the implementation strategies.

Something somewhere lacking, some lessons to be learned, some immediate rescue actions need to be taken, with a sincere note of hope we need to initiate a discussion on variety of such issues on variety of platforms to come up with some concrete and realistic alternative livelihood solutions. Something which will give them a respectful livelihood and a dignified life! One still feels that it’s more of policy level issue than the monetary one. Policies like customized education, mandatory skill development, upfront plans for aging city population, teaching survival tricks and strategies right from the elementary education up to the higher education ladder and even to the uneducated population, survival from financial breakdown, survival from natural calamity, surviving from personal, professional, physical and medical emergencies, surviving poverty and old age in a dignified manner of course with institutional support, citizen participation and motivation!

We need to make every citizen skilled and able enough to earn their own livelihood even if they already have livelihood resources at disposal, even if they have family and people to take care of at present, at least as a backup livelihood plan so that they don’t end up being abandoned and begging in streets in case of major setbacks, so that at least there offspring don’t spend whole of their life on street relying on other’s mercy. Simply educating 100% of population is not the ultimate solution for urban poverty for that matter poverty of any kind, even formal education will have to be skill oriented from the very beginning; we can keep narrating encyclopedia to them later! Just an argument though, an 8 to 12 year child who has some livelihood skill up his sleeves can survive even flourish in his life picking up right opportunities, if hypothetically he has no other options left, but it might be very difficult for many of children of same age group to deal with such situations with generalized Not-so-skill-oriented mass education which is being transferred to them at school at present. Education system need to include more and more of technical and creative skill and hobby oriented course structure from the very beginning, one can even think of tailor-made customized education for every single student identifying there talent and inclination early in life. Even if they don’t have to use those skills they can peruse them as their hobby or alternative income source in course of time, and we’ll have a pool of incredibly talented, confident, morally and financially elevated citizens. 
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