Day two of the international conference ‘Combating Poverty in a Market-driven World’ proved to be as interesting as the first day, as passionate speakers and strong viewpoints took centrestage.
National and International Policies that Affect the Economically Deprived
At the opening session, Minar Pimple, former CEO of Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Mumbai, spoke about the dichotomy of globalisation, saying “there are 1 billion obese people in the world today even as 1 billion people around the world go hungry”. Ashwini Kumar, member of the Central Employment Guarantee Committee, discussed government policies that help the poor, saying: “In Maharashtra, the existing Employment Guarantee Scheme mostly favours rural contractors. Correct implementation of this act can help in stopping the farmer suicides in Vidarbha.”
Working Towards a More Just Market System
Biraj Patnaik, Principal Advisor to the Commissioner, started off this session by talking about the strengths and limitations of government monitoring. Patnaik said that while the outreach of government schemes was good, there was no emphasis on checking outcomes; the focus tends to be more on tracking if the money is spent, not how it is spent. “The most worrying aspect is the ‘outsourcing’ of social auditing to NGOs, who can bid for this at a panchayat for as little as Rs 500,” he said.
Another passionate speaker was Nicholas Hildyard, an activist with The Corner House, UK, who spoke about how private equity funds are used for infrastructure development. Hildyard denounced the market, saying, ”I don’t believe in a system that gives a cat in New York more bargaining power than a slum woman in Mumbai, and I am not interested in making such a system more just.” “Private equity and hedge funds are licking their lips at infrastructure projects in developing countries, but who gets this infrastructure?” he said, adding: “We need to address power relations; corporate and market power needs to be challenged. We need to not just empower the poor but dis-empower the rich.”
The conference ended with a summarising by several panellists from the two days, which was chaired by Dr. Parasuraman, Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
All kinds of people came together to discuss better ways to remove poverty. And Mumbai Smiles was privileged to be a part of it. This is proof that though the world is not perfect, there is optimism that it can be.
Source: Mumbai Smiles