>> Friday, November 20, 2009
Last week,a young Indian man was admitted to our ward with chest pain and found to have myocardial infarction(Heart attack).After few days,when he was about to be discahrgerd, I told him I would give him a month' s leave to rest and recuperate. This was part of our standard protocol.I was surprised when he said.....no sir,I have to go back to work.. Can I start work from tomorrow? He was a mason in a construction company, and worked from 8 in morning till 6 in evening. He was paid about 500 dhs a month. And if he didnt work a day,his salary was cut.He cannot be sick..he said .Of the 500 dhs he made,about 150 was spent for food, and another 50 a month to call his family in India. ( he can talk for about 15 mts for that amount....his total contact with his family in a month !).No personal expenses,he cant afford that....he has to send money home to his family. This is the situation of almost all the construction workers in the gulf.Probably,it wouldnt be wrong to say,the wealth of a nation can be its very cheap labour force. And this is the situation where the basic minimum salary for a national is set at about 4000 Dhs,and none of them engages in manual labour.
Our politicians come to the gulf countries almost on a daily basis. They visit the labour camps,and make statements about what they are going to do,but nothing has ever changed.Only recently have we come to know the reason for these visits. Their visits are not for the sake of the gulf malayali,but for their own secret agendas.Almost all of them have their sons and daughters,either working or living in the gulf.All parties have common interests here,and no differnce of opinions!The plight of the labourer is ever the same. World is growing....Richer are getting richer.The rich always have their rights. Poor are getting poorer.....And they dont have any rights. Dont they belong to this world?
Where is justice in this world?
Why are the poor denied of their basic rights?
According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities.
The world has the wealth and means to end poverty. Yet nearly half of the world's population live on less than 50 rupees day ( Revised stansards of poverty)And over 11 million children will die from poverty-related illness this year alone, read the leaflet that fell out of a recent issue of the New Internationalist. This particular leaflet, entitled "Isn't it time we tackled the causes of poverty?" was issued by an organisation called the World Development Movement.
Policies of governments and companies are keeping people poor. Policies that ensure global trade, benefits only the rich, not the poor. The three richest men in the world are wealthier than the 48 poorest countries combined!! Policies that give increasing power to multinational companies.....for every $1 of aid going into poor countries, multinationals take 66% of profits out!!. The powerful are exploiting the poor to make bigger and bigger profits.
Only less than one percent of what the world spends every year on weapons is needed to put every child into school, and to feed them, and yet it doesnt happen.
An ordianry labourer working in the Middle East,has no right to bring his family to him.But,isnt it his basic right? I often see them in the hospital,being sick, lying lonely and dejected in the ward,and often asking me, doctor,will I be able to go home?I just want to go back home before something happens to me. Then again, to go back,he has to beg around for the ticket. It is almost routine for us to collect money for these people,to help them buy a ticket to go home. People go abroad for work on the hopes of a better life for themselves and their families.But many of them see their families,only once in few years.The lives of those unfortunate women and children left behind...Where is justice in this world?
A world with poverty, where too many lack not only for the basics of life, but also the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations,demeans us all. By helping build a path out of it, we do not just reduce suffering,but give people power over their own lives. Development is a profoundly moral cause and isnt it time we do something about it?