Poverty grows

ByMalik Nasir Mahmood Aslam

Seasoned social activist


October 15, 2022

Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam describes a harrowing prospect

The developing world is in the grip of increased Poverty grows on account of record inflation experienced by the world caused by the pandemic and subsequent supply chain disruptions. Almost on the heels of these mishaps came the most disastrous weather conditions ever experienced by the planet exacerbating the situation and bringing untold miseries to the teeming millions of its inhabitants. The situation now is that the monetary-based conception of poverty has been almost universalized among governments and international organizations and there is no letup in the situation.

In this context, Poverty grows is interpreted as a condition suffered by people, the majority of whom are female, who do not earn enough money to satisfy their basic material requirements in the marketplace. However, aware developed countries have regarded poverty as being something external to them and treat this as a defining feature of the Third World and this view has provided justification for the former to help develop the latter by promoting their further integration into the global market and this is the reason that poverty grows moved up the global political agenda at the start of the twenty-first century.

It must be kept in view that just before the end of the Second World War the US-led Western world got an unparalleled opportunity to set up a liberal international economic order, the institutional pillars of which were the IMF, the World Bank, and the GATT. Yet governments were responsive to the demands of national security and embedded liberalism was the order of the day. However, the Cold War stimulated competition between the West and the East to win allies in the developing world.

Western International Economy

Most of the latter were born into the Western international economy and saw their development within the context of that system, i.e. based on growth within a free market, but also they stressed the role of the state in promoting development. It could be conceded that economic progress was achieved by the 1980s but the gap between rich and poor also increased.

By the time the Soviet bloc disintegrated the distinction between the first and the second worlds ended but the gnawing gap of the third world emerged. The most difficult aspect of the third world was the level of poverty affecting the quality of human life as was borne out by the UN Development Index which was specifically designed in the 1990s to keep track of longevity, education, and average purchasing power.

Moreover, the UN also paid attention to devising national poverty reduction strategies, a response to perceived shortcomings in the development orthodoxy, that was criticized on issues of national ownership and policy content. It was also noted that dependency theorists see the current predicament of the Third World as predictable and the argument in this respect is that export-oriented, free-market development promoted in the Third World has increased the wealth of the Western elites.

It is also pointed out that the last two decades of the twentieth century saw an increasing debate about what constitutes development, with NGOs and grassroots activists playing a significant role and resultantly an alternative view of development emerged, based on the transformation of existing power structures that uphold the status quo. Such structures vary in scope from the global to the local and these are often interlinked. However, grassroots organizations challenge entrenched power structures as people defend their rights, as they define them, seeking local control and empowerment.

Critical Alternative Views

Development in this alternative view can be seen as facilitating a community’s progress on its own terms. The alternative views of NGOs have stressed community participation, empowerment, equity, self-reliance, and sustainability that carry weight.

In any case, the orthodox adherence to the development concept remains constant though the mainstream debate has shifted from growth to sustainable development—the view that current development should not be at the expense of future generations or the natural environment. It is worthwhile to view that the orthodox position asserts that sustainable development is to be achieved by further growth within a global free-market economy. This is the most effective way to maximize global wealth creation. Supporters believe that this will free up resources to care for the environment and to ensure social progress.

On the other hand, the critical alternative views of development have been effectively neutralized by the formal incorporation of their language and concerns into the orthodox view. Nevertheless, the process of incorporation has resulted in some small positive changes in the implementation of the orthodox view such as the World Bank.

Though global food production witnessed an increase in recent times paradoxically hunger and malnourishment remained widespread. One reason for this contradiction is that population growth outstrips food production. Currently, this is the main issue confronting the world, particularly Pakistan where a growing number of people are languishing in poverty grows and have no recourse to come out of it. The Weekender


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