SEATTLE — Present-day India has seen many changes: women can work, the economy is fast-growing and there is a large food distribution program. However, India still suffers from severe poverty, due to factors such as corruption, lack of education, unequal distribution of wealth, a population explosion, the caste system mentality and mismanagement.
The international poverty line is $1.25 per day. The World Bank reports that 32.7 percent of the population in India lives below the poverty line, and 68.7 percent survive on less than $2 per day. India has the fourth worst infant mortality rate in Asia, and 45 percent of children in India are malnourished.
Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton traveled through India to get the perspectives of those who live in the country. One woman shared how she has been dependent on others her whole life and was not prepared to face the outside world. She plans for her daughter to have more opportunities than she did. “Whatever she wants to do, I’m going to support her,” she said.
Women are changing the narrative about the roles of women. Oftentimes, marriages are arranged and women are expected to be submissive towards their abusive husbands. Now, with each new generation, there is more progress and change.
Other testimonies included men working long hours, desperate to make money to feed their families. One man shared how he wants to do something for the nation of India. He is studying agriculture so he can invent new seeds to increase yields to help smaller farmers.
“They just can’t compete with industrial farms. Most of them live in isolated villages, and it costs too much to bring their goods to market. It can be cheaper for them to dump their crops on the side of the road,” he said.
There are several organizations addressing the need for change. These are some of the key groups working to alleviate poverty in India:
- Marigold & Co., a startup business in California, was founded after a student visited India and witnessed the lack of opportunities to rise out of poverty in India. The organization specifically focuses on creating opportunities and empowering women in rural India by selling products such as pajamas, wallets and jewelry.
- Heart for India Foundation (HFI) is helping underprivileged children between the ages of three to 18 access education. Two training centers sponsored by HFI offer an opportunity for young women to get their official diploma and find long-term jobs.
- Children International is also addressing poverty in India, and people can sign up to sponsor a child. The work they do includes providing access to regular healthcare and medicine for sponsored kids, preparing youth for the workplace and providing an early childhood development program for children’s education.
- Save The Children India is a global nonprofit organization and is India’s leading independent child rights NGO. They work in the areas of child survival, newborn health, maternal health and the health and nutrition of children affected by emergencies and natural disasters, as well as WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programs. They have specific healthcare programs, such as their Stop Diarrhea Initiative that will tackle diarrhea, which is the second biggest killer of children under five.
- Oxfam India is an independent organization that works to address the root causes of poverty and inequality. They focus on wider structural changes, including greater state and institutional accountability, effective participation of people in decisions affecting their lives through articulation of their demands and rights, increased power and influence of poor people over distribution and use of public resources and assets, increased social inclusion of the poor and changes in ideas and beliefs to inform equitable development strategies.
Because of these people and organizations that are inspired to make a change, there is hope to overcome corruption and poverty in India.
– Julia Lee