Q3. While driving through the city traffic, you and your spouse have to stop at a red light signal. To your notice, you find a little girl begging on the footpath with her mother. Standing next to her, is an old couple probably in their 70s, selling the tricolour for few bucks. It is clear that they aren’t able to have their ends meet with their meagre income. Your attention is diverted by your spouse who is cursing the city traffic and constantly complaining about the dysfunctional air conditioner of the car that has left him/ her hapless in the scorching heat. You are pained to realise the stark differences that mark one human being from another. You thoughts become introspective and start asking tough questions-
- Why are they poor? Is it their Karma?
- Am I in anyway responsible for their deprived status?
- Does my indifference towards them puts me in bad light morally?
- Can’t I do something about them?
- Even if I intend to do something, for how many such people would I be able to make a difference in their lives?
Now answer the following questions:
- Do you think your thoughts represent the normal discourse of human dilemma? Doesn’t everybody think similarly? What are the fallouts of this thinking?
- How do you envisage ‘Sarvodaya’ as a philosophy to address the gross inequality being meted out to the deprived and downtrodden?
According to various reports poverty in India ranges from 21% to 29%. Considering the huge population of more than 1.3 billion, this 21% makes a huge number. Above given case study is a typical scene observed on the signals in metro cities such as Delhi, Mumbai or even in million cities.
Do you think your thoughts represent the normal discourse of human dilemma? Doesn’t everybody think similarly? What are the fallouts of this thinking?
- After looking at the little girl and elderly couple, so many thoughts coming to my mind, it is indicating that I have empathy and compassion for people in need.
- Yes, thoughts coming to my mind represent the normal discourse of human dilemma, between my own comfort and their suffering. But everybody doesn’t thinks similarly, if everybody would have thought similarly there would not have had such stark inequalities.
- India’s richest 1% held a huge 58% of the country’s total wealth and the global figure is about 50% of the wealth is held by richest 1%.
Fallouts of this thinking:
- Person who thinks that poor are poor because of their Karma doesn’t have empathy towards needy. By blaming karma person will not do anything to reduce or end their suffering.
- Thinking that for how many people I would be able to do, sometimes such thoughts comes in a pessimistic mind, by thinking that we cannot change the situation of millions of poor, we do not take action to even help one.
- Some people only think they do not act. May be it is because of lack of awareness or simply because of lack of empathy and compassion.
- For example; People will feed bad for little girl selling flags on signal, but very few know that CHILDLINE India foundation under Union Ministry of women and child development has provided a helpline 1098 to help such street children.
‘Sarvodaya’ as a philosophy to address the gross inequality
Sarvodaya is a term meaning ‘Universal Uplift’ or ‘Progress of All’. The term was first coined by Mohandas Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin’s tract on political economy, “Unto This Last”, and Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy.
Later Gandhian, like the Indian nonviolence activist Vinoba Bhave, embraced the term as a name for the social movement in post-independence India which strove to ensure that self-determination and equality reached all strata of India society.
Some of the principles of “Sarvodaya’:
- The sarvodaya society is socialist in the true sense of the term. All calling will be the same moral, social and economical values. The individual personality has the fullest scope for development.
- The sarvodaya society is based on equality and liberty. There is no room in it for unwholesome some competition, exploitation and class-hatred.
- Sarvodaya stands for the progress of the all, to realize the goal of: from each according to his work and to each according to his needs.
- We have many examples of people who practice “sarvodaya”. A name which comes to my mind is of Azhar from Hyderabad. His initiative “Meals under the Bridge” is serving free food to all needy people from years. Similarly, ‘langar’ of Sikh community and redistribution of wealth system in Bohra community are the examples of sarvodaya.
- It is wrong to think that we cannot make any change. If everyone will contribute a small part of his or her then all the drops collectively can make an ocean.
- I strongly believe in Gandhiji’s thought that “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed…”
From all the above observations and principles of sarvodaya it can be concluded that gross inequality in society is a blot on humanity. Someone rightly said that “Poverty anywhere is threat to prosperity everywhere”.
Empathy and compassion are the traits required to alleviate the suffering of others. Simply thinking is not enough, to act is more important.
Though a certain level of comfort is necessary for efficient productivity and dignity of life, but one must remember the life lesson given by Buddha; “. Contentment is greatest wealth. “
Best Answer: SID