Is the elimination of global poverty a realistic aim?

Poverty as defined by the UN is “the denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity”. What this essentially means is that a person suffering from poverty lacks the ability to participate actively in society; having no capability to feed and clothe a family. It also means that this individual is insecure and powerless. Considering how most of the world is still mired in poverty, is reducing poverty such a painstaking and strenuous task?

Poverty is nearly impossible to alleviate due to the many players involved, especially since it is caused by greed, corruption and violence which are acts of powerful individuals on the powerless and vulnerable. No doubt there are organizations that work diligently to reduce global poverty, but the task seems difficult because there are always powerful individuals in corrupt governments who refuse to help as they make great profit from those that suffer in hunger and poverty. Examples of corrupt leaders are plenty nearby. We have Najib in the recent IMDB scandal, President Marcos and Sukarno as well. It is very unrealistic to say that global poverty can be eliminated considering how the people in power are the ones that is perpetuating this cycle of poverty.

However, critics may argue that reducing poverty appears to be realistic considering the more educated the world becomes, it is made aware of the true hardships faced by those who suffer from poverty. An important first step is to create awareness of the situation, hoping that more individuals who are financially secure can step forward to help. For example, we have organizations like Millennium Villages dedicated to improving all the conditions that cause poverty such as water, food, education, sanitation and they have proven that by helping they have successfully managed, in one aspect, to provide the schools that they run to expand and strengthen their GSM network coverage.

Having said that, at times, the environment does not allow for poverty to be resolved, with nature catching us off guard at times. The environment constantly changes and humans usually fall short when responding to the aftermath caused by nature’s fury. Often. when Mother Nature strikes, human lives are affected drastically as structures collapse and so do economies, putting those nations with the ability to help, in crisis as well. For example, when Tsunami struck Japan, thousands of people were left hungry and homeless and it made the world focus more on the crisis at hand, than the crisis in Africa where food shortages affect over 260 million people.

In addition, the rapid economic progress in developed countries makes it difficult for poorer countries whose economies are driven by farming and agriculture, to catch up. This widens the gap between the rich and those in absolute poverty. Developed nations have the required skills to progress forward and they are usually more technologically advanced. Wages tend to be suppressed in the developing nations since there is a large pool of labour available for blue-collared labour work. Developed nations also outsource production to developing nations to generate higher profit margins, squeezing them dry just to produce for the MNCs. Examples of such sweatshops include Apple and H&M. Considering how the world is moving forward, will the elimination of poverty even be a realistic aim?

P.s. This is a short outline for this question, with some relevant arguments from my ex student who scored A for his GP. If you are interested in how we teach our students to come out with arguments, to craft their essays, pls come for our trial lesson at 50% off (limited to only the first 10 J1 students who call in).

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