Sunday, 19 August 2007

Can poverty ever be eradicated?

I personally feel that although minimizing poverty is possible, it is not possible to get rid of poverty in this world. Take for example, if everyone at least receives basic education and is quipped with certain skills, who would be willing to take up the low paying jobs?

One way of minimizing poverty in the poorer countries as mentioned by American thinker Jeffrey Sachs, would be for the world’s leading countries to donate 0.7 per cent of their national income to help the world’s poor. I feel that this is an effective method as it would not be fair for any rich country to be solely responsible for helping the poor. Also, if many richer countries were to contribute, each individual country would actually have to a significantly smaller percentage of their national income. As a result, it would further encourage other countries in the same league to do the same to help the poor. Jeffrey Sachs also mentioned that a ‘huge problem doesn’t mean a very complicated solution’, for example, a simple bed net can help to solve the problem of malaria in Africa.

In a commentary from the Worldpress, Kamala Sarup stated that poorer countries with many mountains and few waterways would certainly become richer because of the inevitable trade of cheaper goods and services provided by their richer neighbours. I agree that this would help poorer countries to eradicate much poverty as more people would be able to afford basic necessities. For example, trade between China and Mongolia benefited Mongolia as cheap Chinese consumer goods was more affordable.

Also mentioned in the article, poor countries are trapped in a vicious cycle, the availability of technology improves the standard of living, however, technology depends on capital, which depends on technology. As such, I agree that poor countries should import and not develop their own technology. This would allow them to be able to keep up with the current technology and provide better quality goods and services for trade. With the profits made from trade with other countries, money can be channeled to alleviate poverty such as to provide education to increase the literacy rate of people. In such a way, poorer countries would be able to break free from the vicious cycle.

However, it is usually not possible to totally eliminate poverty in the world. It was mentioned in the same article that geographical location plays a vital role in determining if the country can be freed from poverty. It is undeniable that countries with many mountains and few waterways are especially advantaged in the quest of wealth. There are limited areas of land available for development to take place and consequently, there would be naturally slower economic progress in the area. Singapore, for example, has flourished from a third world nation to first world within a span of about three decades due to its strategic location.

In addition, it is also mentioned that leaders in certain countries who pursue spiritual wealth and not economic wealth, for example, Bhutan. It is especially difficult to change the mindset of these leaders within a short time span thus posing an obstacle to eliminating poverty. In my opinion, even if they contemplate about focusing on economic development, they would experience great difficulty as there is a big gap to close as most of the developed nations are very far ahead of them.

In conclusion, it is possible for poverty to be eradicated only if developed nations are willing to lend a helping hand.