"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
March 24, 2006

Why Poor Countries Are Poor

From India Uncut comes a link to a solid article on Why Poor Countries Are Poor. We all know that corrupt and inefficient governments breed poverty. However, it is also worth considering the way that a lack of social trust, or a failed social contract also aggravates the problem. As in the example from Cameroon, […]

From India Uncut comes a link to a solid article on Why Poor Countries Are Poor.

We all know that corrupt and inefficient governments breed poverty. However, it is also worth considering the way that a lack of social trust, or a failed social contract also aggravates the problem. As in the example from Cameroon, here in India it is often the case that pubic and day-to-day situations end up as win-lose scenarios. The wealth of the few is dependent on the poverty of the many. Waste is extraordinary and political gain (and the gains of politics) outstrip social goods. People still act like what they have today could be gone tommorrow, like any security is fleeting, like any gain will naturally come at the expense of someone else. This fragments and atomises the social structure, it breeds selfishness and consumerism and in the end undermines that which is good in Indian culture.

But this need not be the case. In fact it is my growing belief, after three years here that India already has the wealth it needs to address its own poverty.

Put simply, India does not really need charity, aid or help to alleviate its poor. That it still relies on these things is testament to the failure of its ruling class, to the lack of social contract and to the paucity of trust that exists within the country. Change these things, and there will be a dramatic turnaround in the plight of the poorest of the poor.

[tags] Poverty, Cameroon, India [/tags]

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Responses
Toni 17 years ago

While I wouldn’t want to draw too many comparisons, it is interesting to contrast this view with the historical ethos (theoretical but publicly acknowledged, though frequently disregarded in practice) that it was the duty of English nobility to protect their surfs and villeins. By return, the plebs expected stability and predictability, to a degree, from their lords and masters and often treated them with respect and trust. I’d say this attitude has continued up until the last 60 years in gradually diminishing degree. Obviously this was by no means universal, but where the system broke down, slums tended to spring up and ‘dog-eat-dog’ in the manner you describe seemed to prevail.

***

I’ve just had a 1.5 hour break from when I started writing, and can’t remember where this was going, but the difference in cultures IS an interesting one.

V.P 17 years ago

India is not a democracy, it is a republic. Republicism clearly dictates the tyranny of the minority, not the majority. To have a democracy would not be practical considering the endless delay and ignorance in legislation for every issue.

Socialism for its part does not work in Indian culture as it breeds inefficiency, excessive regulation, mismanagement etc as it has done for the last 40 years here and in other nations. It is only through the liberlisation process of 1991 that government services have had to shape up and there is more transparency compared to before. Quality of life (not standard of living) is improving even for the poorest as compared to 30 years ago.

To eradicate poverty is economic suicide and we only have to look at the developed societies today with its economic saturation, population decline, aging population, welfare and insurance cuts etc.

Selfishness and consumerism is part of human nature and has no relevance with conditions of state. Therefore India is truly the ideal of individualism, right to liberty, happiness, personal responsibility and less government interference and regulation in daily lives.

India is honest as it does not hide its human nature whereas western societies have the same corruption, mismanagement, embezzlement, cheating the system etc in a more refined manner.

Since you are a christian, let me ask you this: Jesus cured many people; but did anybody come to his aid at his trial or save him from the cross? No. People had the choice to save him and they did not and have since then failed in the last 2,000 years to live up to his ideals in many undertakings such as the crusades, south america, holocaust etc.

India does not need aid and has refused it during the Tsunami disaster, are you going to start complaining that India should have taken it? The aid industry in itself is corrupt and is purely meant to commericially benefit the donor country, aid organisations or middlemen.

India indeed is rising and has made restrictions on aid donations strictly through government channels. So you need not worry.

Instead I suggest you worry about your own country and the treatment of poor people and “Indians” in south America and the rain forrest. But I guess your human nature will stop you from that. 😉

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

V.P. you say

“…are you going to start complaining that India should have taken it?””

but my blogpost already said,

“…it is my growing belief, after three years here that India already has the wealth it needs to address its own poverty.

Put simply, India does not really need charity, aid or help to alleviate its poor.”

Why make an accusation, when the point has already been raised and addressed?

jacky 16 years ago

Oh,what a beautiful blog! I like it very much! I’m agreeable to your point of view!
my name is ÂèçÂ?îÈáú I hope to make feiends with you !

John 16 years ago

Hi its John forth from Kyneton. T
here are many reasons why poor countries are poor but the PRIMARY cause is the ongoing legacy of western imperialism/colonialism—a process which is continuing as strongly as ever—globalisation being the latest and MOST DEADLY phase.

Have yoy ever noticed that most/all of the wealth goes to the already rich. This is happening both within countries and worldwide.
While this dynamic continues poverty will never ever be eliminated.

Then there is also the qyestion of limited resources. I heard someone say that if everyone lived like the average Londoner then we would need 5 extra planets to provide all the resources.

These 3 related references give an insight into the origins and consequences of the current universal insanity.

1. http://www.coteda.com/fundamentals/index.html
2. http://www.dabase.net/coop+tol.htm
3. http://www.dabase.net/spacetim.htm
4. http://www.dabase.net/proofch6.htm

Reference 4 is very much about how Christianity was/is an integral part of the western colonial misadventure.
Did you know that there are more Christian missionaries infesting the planet than at any time in history!

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

John, thanks for your comments. I strongly agree that many of the structures that propagate global poverty were set in place during the era of colonialism. Moreover, I agree that christian mission during that era, whilst often being a force for good, was also often an uncritical aid in that process.

However, I don’t consider globalisation as a “deadly phase.” Globalisation sometimes gets it wrong, actually, people get it wrong. That said, I find myself unable to think of a real lasting solution to global poverty that does not involve globalisation. Look at any country in the world that is tackling poverty in a lasting and meaningful way and there is a story of globalisation at work.

As for Christian missionaries being akin to some kind of vermin (“infesting”), well that is a value judgement I don’t agree with. There is some bad in the work of missionaries around the world, but also a lot of good and I don’t feel comfortable with having that ignored.

John 16 years ago

Fernando, My use of the word infesting was quite deliberate.
Why?
Because reductionist exoteric Christianity is not at all about Real God. It is entirely and only about frightened egos and the “culture” of fear.
Havent you noticed that that most “religious” of countries “christian” America produces 48% of the worlds armaments and that its “culture” is totally dominated by the values of the military-industrial complex (Eisenhower).
The “culture” of death literally rules.
This “culture” of fear/death is quite literally sructured into the bones and bodies (the flesh) of every dreadfully sane normal American, Christian or otherwise. And us Australians too!

1. http://www.dabase.net/noface.htm
2. http://www.dabase.net/ilchurst.htm
3. http://www.dabase.net/coop+tol.htm Again

And what are “christian” missionaries really bringing to people in other places and cultures?
The one “true faith”!!?? OR
Themselves and ALL their uninspected self-serving western cultural baggage and presumptions. Just as missionaries in earlier times were bringing themselves and their uninspected cultural presumptions to their hapless victims.
This talk addresses the imperialistic assumption re anyones claim to be the possessor of the one truth.

4. http://www.adidam.org/flash/truthandreligion/index.html

Also an essay re the childish nievity of the parental “creator” god idea which all christians subscribe to.

5. http://www.aboutadidam.org/readings/parental_deity/index.html

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Sorry John, but I can’t agree with this line of thought. Christianity has big problems and I am not about to die as an apologist for its instansiations in the US, where there are massive structural problems with the church.

But to claim that all christian missionaries are culturally unreflective is disingenuous and quite frankly, doesn’t square with my experience. Moreover, the number of outgoing missionaries from western countries is steadily dropping and has been doing so for some time. Any theory that can account for worldwide christian missions has to accomodate the fact that the fastest growth in missionaries comes from countries other than the US and Europe.

Moreover, I find describing those recieving missionaries amongst their midst as “hapless victims” to also not relfect my experience (in fact it is a bit condescending). If they were hapless, they would uncritically accept the missionaries’ message, but this does not happen. During my three years in India I saw a lot of informed and critical discussion of the work of foreign groups at a lot of levels of society, far from hapless.

John 16 years ago

I wonder if you read the article on American missionaries in the Age Weekend Magazine. Very disturbing stuff!

In recent communications the author of the articles I have posted stated that if we are to survive the current world crisis we are going to have throw most/all of our inherited “religious” propositions away with both hands. This is especially true of the three semitic monotheisms with their absurd Only one “truth-way” claims.

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