The country is celebrating Deepawali, the festival of lights today.For the past one week the city news papers have been carrying big boasts about the rampant purchases that are being made during the festival season. It seems the markets in Bhopal have done a sale of Rs.1000 crores in the past one week.
This morning I was driving down to a friend’s place with my thirteen year old daughter, she put my heart on fire as we started conversing on deepawali celebrations.She posed a question on me “Appa, (my daughters call me appa;it’s a mallu way of calling papa) how can people celebrate deepawali like this when we have so many poor people in our country?I asked her “What made you think like that Rose?”.
She started narrating about a maid who comes to sweep and clean our house every day and about that maid’s poor living conditions.She went on to say that those people are so poor that the lady is not able to send her children to a school but instead she sends those little children house to house for cleaning and sweeping .My daughter was getting severely concerned about that maid’s children who are of her age and are not able to attend a school or enjoy good facilities like other kids of that age.As we were talking my eyes fell on today’s news paper which was lying on the dashboard which carried a headline “DIWALI IS ALL ABOUT GREAT FOOD FOR ME -XXXXXX” I purposely removed the name of the celebrity who made this statement as that person is a famous Bollywood icon.This made me reflect a bit about our country which is a land of extremes; extreme poverty and extreme wealth stay next to each other.
In India the upper middle class and the business class go to work in the morning in designer fashions and share the sidewalk with some of the poorest beggars wearing nothing more than rags.The beautiful mountains and landscapes in India are famous throughout the world and it also houses the most densely populated and filthiest slums in the world. A higher end Mercedes can be seen driving down on one side of the road and in the other side you might a see a poor hand cart puller struggling hard to find means to provide for his family.
According to a recent report by UN (Millennium Development Goals) one third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest of poor people live in India
"We don't have to be proud of what we've done," This was acknowledged by our Minority Affairs minister Najma Heptualla a few months back and she also added “poverty is the biggest challenge”
India also accounted for the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children not reaching their fifth birthday.
As we celebrate Deepawali with great fervor, let’s contemplate –“Is there anything that I can do to bring some light into the lives of people who are groping in utter darkness of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment.”