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Reducing poverty: An enormous challenge

Published on 14th Nov, Edition 46, 2016

 

Poverty is a widespread scarcity, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. That is, they have little or no material means of surviving; little or no food, security, clothes, shelter, education, healthcare facilities and other physical means of living and improving one’s life. In Pakistan, poverty is at alarming level and according to a recently revealed Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report 4 out of 10 Pakistanis live in poverty with the highest rate of poverty in FATA and Balochistan. The survey was carried out by the Planning Ministry with the support of NGOs.

The country’s national MPI constitutes three dimensions of education, health and standard of living and 15 indicators. While each dimension carries an equal weight of 1/3, the weights of the component indicator differ.

The government and public have to work together to reduce the poverty in the country. Following are some ways that can help to reduce poverty:

System of Zakat: Allah Almighty has given the best system to reduce the poverty and help the poor to grow an independent source of income. The zakat is compulsory on the people who have the money and they hold it for one year, they are asked to pay 2.5 percent of their money to the underserved and poor people. The Holy Quran says on many occasions to pay zakat:

“And there are those who hoard gold and silver, and spend it not in the way of Allah. Announce unto them a most grievous chastisement. On the day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs. This is the treasure that you hoarded for yourselves. Taste then the treasure you hoarded.'”[Al-Tauba 9:34-35]

“And in their wealth there is due share for the beggar and the deprived.” [Al-Zariyat, 51:19].

In Pakistan, the system of zakat is not very effective. Even we are claiming ourselves as the Islamic country, but the system of zakat is poorly managed and not helping the poor people in the way it should be to get a stable and respectable life. In Islam the offering of zakat is compulsory but in our country the law is too weak to collect the zakat. It is promptly needed to make the zakat collection and disbursement department corruption free. So the people can trust them and pay the zakat to the government, accordingly to the Islam teachings.

Health: The major problem faced by poor people is unavailability of health facilities. Due to this they spent all their savings and even take loans for the health treatment. Long run economic growth can only be achieved through increases in capital (factors that increase productivity), both human and physical, and technology. Improving human capital, in the form of health, is needed for economic growth. Knowledge on the cost effectiveness of health care interventions can be intangible but educational measures to disseminate what works are available, such as the disease control priorities project.

The promoting hand washing is one of the most cost effective health interventions and can cut deaths from the major childhood diseases of diarrhea and pneumonia by half. There is a need to increase such initiatives and make the health facilities at small villages and towns.

 

Education: The state of education and awareness is very bad in Pakistan. The literacy rate in Pakistan is very low as compared to other countries in the region.

By increasing the educational facilities, we can create the awareness in the people to get their rights. The government should realize that health, education and security are more important than constructing the metro buses and motorways. If we open more technical education institute, the graduate of these institutes can start their own technical-business and many of them can go overseas to earn foreign exchange for the country. But unfortunately the governments in our country never want these developments because if the people have money and education than it will be difficult to buy the votes.

Industrialization & Helping Farmers: Pakistan’s economy is based on agriculture and generating over 20 percent of the country’s GDP, while more than 40 percent of the labor force is associated with this sector. That is showing that the earning per capita in this sector is low as compared to other sectors. More than 50 percent of the country’s population still lives in rural areas.

Agriculture provides raw material for the industries and food. Now the question is how to increase the earning of the people associated with agriculture sector. The landlords are exploiting the farmers and paying them very low due to availability of a large work force. The other interesting fact is that in villages, women work side by side with men that are very positive as compared to our cities. The latest and state of the art technologies for agriculture are still not being used in our country.

Industrialization can change the fate of the people associated with agriculture sector. If government and private sector jointly start the industrial areas and announce incentives to install new industries in the shape of tax free zones. By the installation of new industries the labor move to these industries and landowners would have to pay extra to get their work done. It will also push them to use the latest technology to improve the yield. It is a reality and our personal experience that when an industry starts in a rural area; the wages in that locality increase because the people have the opportunity to work in that industry. The need of the time is to look forward and go for the industrialization because in this world of high technology, it is not possible to work with ordinary method and take the competitive advantage.

Following are some other measures that can help in reducing the poverty:

– Small Loans
– Welfare Projects
– Debt Relief
– Empower Women
– Gender Equality
– Climate Change Projects

By taking the above actions, poverty can be reduced. Let’s make a commitment that we will pay zakat regularly to help the poor people in spending a respectable life.

Muhammad Farhan is a Chemical Engineer, MBA and MSBA working in Power sector since 2007. Muhammad Rehan is a LLB and MBA working as an Advocate High Court in Multan. twitter: farhan6309902

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