Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I have spoken about the heart-breaking poverty and social injustice in Kachla and Bithoor.

And at first glance, a little habitation I came across in Kachla seemed the embodiment of these two things. The vulnerability of the houses to the elements and their decidedly unhealthy location next to a stagnant pond shocked me. The houses arein the floodplain (next to the river bed, in fact) of one of the largest rivers in the world,and I thought of how the floods must impact these households for three months of the year, every single year. Having spoken to the other respondents, I now had a sense of the utter injustice they face every day. All that the Government claims to provide for its citizens- right to employment, right to primary education, right to health, and even the most basic right to life- is denied these families. The lack of a door for the house is poignant in its admission of having nothing to lose.

But then I was struck by how houseproud the family is. There are times when my house is not as neat as this courtyard. The floor is clean, the refuse has been disposed off out of sight, and the bedding is soaking in the sun. I do not intend to romanticise poverty, but to point out that dignity has nothing to do with externalities.

And above all, quite literally, flies the national tricolour. The nation has failed this family and a million such families-and still they are proud of it. I crib in public because I am having difficulties with registration.

I wish now that I had walked up to this woman, spoken with her, asked her of the flag. But on the other hand, maybe it is good that I didn't..

1 comment:

Grumpy Granny said...

"...dignity has nothing to do with externalities"

This is very true and how I wish others in the world with far more resources could realize this. As you say, romanticising poverty is not the point, it is realizing that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their monetary level or living conditions.

Powerful, thank you.


I, too, wonder what might have happened if you had spoken to that woman.