Sher Jehan Mir;
Poverty prevailing in the rural society has a damaging effect on its social fabric. Apart from other serious economic implications, the poverty has social repercussions too. Small disputes arising out of trivial family issues, gradually turn into serious family dissensions, enmity, especially after the division and distribution of inherited properties of joint families in the rural communities. Day today bickerings turn into regular in house fightings and then into litigations leading to perpetual family feuds or enmities. The close blood relations of today turn into arch enemies of tomorrow and the litigation thus started growing into a regular feature of the rural community and this runs for generations and culminates in total destruction of the family not only economically but socially too. This damaging trend has now assumed the status of a virus “God forbid! it may not be Covid-19”.
It is high time that sanity comes to the opinion leaders or elders of the rural society before it is too late. This virus has now eaten into the fabric of the society. Healthy curative measures are needed to root out this pandemic. Many countries in the world took the poverty issues of their rural community as a challenge and skilfully turn it into an opportunity for uplifting the population living below the poverty line, through their innovative ideas and constant endeavours. Constant efforts do produce encouraging results. I remember, some families in our close vicinity and further afield were quite famous in street fighting , brick batting and mud slinging on each other. The young guys of these families were always actively in the arena for wrestling with their neighbours. Most of their valuable time was spent in the police stations and the leisure time in hatching new plans against the neighbours. They were discharging this duty with great devotion and religious fervour. It was but a blessing in disguise that somebody induced them to change their thinking, provided them with some job opportunities and got them engaged in some businesses in our own village. They are now happily engaged in a lucrative business including real estate. The warring neighbours have now become not only close relatives again but intimate friends too. Here it reminds me the old Chinese saying, “Do not teach how to eat the fish but how to catch the fish”, which went 100% correct too in the stated case. When we observe the history of the world leaders of the recent past like, Mao, Linen, Karl Marx, Khalil Jibran, micro-finance movement of DR. Younus and even French revolution we can realize that all these ideas culminate in redeeming the economic goals of the society. More than 4% of GB’s population is living below the poverty line. In order to nip the evil in the bud, there is a need of paradigm shift in the approach of living patterns of the people in the village and they are re quired to be induced towards agro-based and other income generating activities. The reasons of abject poverty in the rural society could be summarized as under:- Literacy rate The literacy rate in the rural area is quite low because they do not have access to quality education either because of financial constraints or lack lustre attitude of the government to provide affordable or free education to the poor masses in the rural areas.
Obviously, without having acquired quality education the youth in the rural areas is unable to compete for higher and lucrative job opportunities and consequently they are legging behind in overall developmental activity. Health care The rural communities do not have better health facilities as compared to urban area and thus their children are always vulnerable to a number of diseases besides male nutrition problem due to food shortages. They are unable to afford proper medical treatment to their ailing children mainly because of financial constraints. A large segment of the rural society does not have access even to safe drinking water which ultimately results in water borne disease. Small Land Holding/ Shortage of food The land holding of the people in the rural area is too small i.e much below the subsistence holding. This land could hardly suffice the food requirements of an average family. So, the rural communities always suffer with food shortages and they are gradually pushed below the poverty line. Shelter Adequate housing is basic human requirement to protect themselves both from hot and cold weather conditions besides rain fall etc. The shelter homes in the rural areas of GB are mostly made of mud and rubble and always prone to suffer by natural calamities like heavy rains, tremors and floods. Unless the rural society is provided with proper shelter, there would always be an impending danger of their being exposed to natural calamities.
The writer is a ex-Chief Minster Gilgit Baltistan.