17 March, 2006

The Poor and the Rich

When the list of the World's richest people was recently published, the first thing that came to my mind - as always, was: the World's poorest! And reading that the number of the very rich has dramatically increased in India, I couldn't help recalling what a friend of mine living in Culcutta always tells me about India's enormous disparity between the rich and the poor. But it is not only in the developing countries that there is poverty; the very rich countries too, have a vast number of people reeling under the weight of poverty. Infact, statistics show that 'the wealthiest nation on Earth has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.'.

There are many causes of poverty, and some theories to what make people poor. But honestly, I can only think of no other reasons but: selfishness, greed and lack of proper planning by governments. If those in power and authority lay down feasible strategies to reduce poverty and set up social protections and provision for contingencies to assist those who are most vulnerable - certainly there will be a great reduction of poverty. And can't the very rich share a larger percentage of their wealth with those who are less fortunate? I fail to understand how any one can have abundant wealth and still enjoy it when so many live in deprivation and need!

Hadhramout, being in a part of the world considered as one of the poorest, has a large majority of poor people too. But Hadhramis are a proud people; it is extremely rare for any Hadhrami to beg. Families and close relatives would always assist the less fortunate; neighbors too, would do so. The elderly and the weak, are always taken care of by other family members. Most of the rich and the very rich too, always try to set up a sizeable portion of their wealth to helping the weak and the needy.

Most of the greatest minds that we know of in history, have all spoken against poverty and about the nobleness of giving and being compassionate to our fellow Mankind. But, alas - half of the 6.5 billion people who live on our planet Earth, today, live in misery and discomfort. It is a shame to all of us who claim to be the noblest beings on this planet: Mankind!

"Shall I tell you the very worst among you? Those who eat alone, and whip the slaves, and give to nobody." - The Prophet Muhammad

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of" - Confucius

"Anticipate charity by preventing poverty; assist the reduced fellow man, either by a considerable gift or a sum of money or by teaching him a trade or by putting him in the way of business so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. This is the highest step and summit of charity's golden ladder." - Maimonides

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill