I grew up in a relatively underdeveloped part of my city,
Kolkata. When I was in school, I would go out every afternoon to play cricket in the neighborhood playground. Till I got to college, that was the only place where I would meet kids from other schools. Many of them came from marginalized backgrounds and studied in schools that lacked many of the facilities available in mine. Worn down buildings, barren playgrounds and a relatively small campus were defining features of the three schools they came from. Another aspect, often frowned upon by the people in the area, was the absolute chaos their schools turned into during the school hours. Looking back, that was probably one of the best features of theirs - their enthusiasm to attend, to learn, to socialize in an academic environment and build their careers, despite the lack of facilities available to them.
I firmly believe one of the basic requirements to be humane is to believe in equality and coexistence. If someone’s fallen behind, it must be due to the lack of opportunity. As such, ensuring “everyone gets a plate before anyone gets seconds” should be one of the fundamental requirements of a civil society. While many like to frown upon the idea of “handing out freebies”, truth is, an educated and law-abiding community is better to live in than one where the rule of law doesn’t fully exist. Low poverty has been associated with higher crime rate, which in the end, is detrimental to all. We can debate the history and origin of how the marginalized may have ended up there, but it would probably be easier to forget the debates and focus on developing their socioeconomic conditions instead.
Every year, we keep seeing the numbers go up or stay the same for child hunger and children living below the poverty level. We need things to change. By now, there has been enough success stories to show that given the opportunity and platform, anyone can achieve success. We need more people to achieve success, compete globally in the various sectors. We need capable businessmen who can compete against the west, we need researchers, physicians and programmers who can help us establish a foothold in the technical fields – nuclear and particle physics, astronomy, defence, AI. We also need to establish ourselves as a competitive side in the major sports. We need movie producers and musicians who can compete against Hollywood or K-Pop, not just nationally but globally, given the crucial role of soft power.
The only way to achieve that target, is to successfully utilize the population. Larger the population we can engage in such activities, greater will be our chance at succeeding. Funding education, ensuring proper nutrition to kids is the most fundamental requirement in fulfilling our goal.
It is estimated that out of the three million non-profits in the country, more than two-thirds operate at an annual budget of less than 1 crore. The numbers are much lower for the smaller ones working at the grassroot level. There are varied targets NGOs are working to meet. While some work to assist survivors of domestic violence, others work to assist in the education of our marginalized children. EdLodge Foundation – an organization that works to promote child education, organized an event called Project #365, which was an attempt at reaching out to the homeless and deprived children in Shillong, Delhi and Bengaluru by providing them with packets of food. Many such organizations are working day and night to eliminate the factors holding us back from achieving equality for all. We all have our roles to play, jobs to fulfill, but it will take extra effort to overcome the widespread damage the people suffered due to the long colonization. The bare minimum from us, could mean the world to many others.