Monday, October 26, 2015

The true face of poverty
Tanden Zangmo
If anyone in the Country understands what poverty is, it is the family living in a ramshackle hut in the far corner of the country. A family that finds solace in a temporary structure just bare enough to shield them from the nature’s wrath.
The roof made of banana leaves can hardly drain heavy shower in summer, resulting in rain water infiltrating right inside the house. The bamboo mat railing of the house does any better job. The cold in winter seeps directly inside from the wide holes in the railings as well as the bamboo floor. But this is the best the family can afford to build.
If they have had first meal of the day that too very hardly, they are oblivious from where would the next meal come from. The ration stock in the small granary has run out long time back and remains empty. There is not a single grain coming out from the granary.
It is the toughest time for the mother when all she can do is stay watching at the pots with her children. The children nag her for food, but their only hope is their father who went out to borrow few kilograms of grains from the neighbor. If only he is lucky.   
The fields remain barren hardly bearing anything. The soil is infertile that no matter how much they toil, very little can be reaped. What little they can grow is constantly ravaged by wild animals. Their home located on the lap of towering mountain with thick forest right in the fringes of their field provides perfect hideout for the wild animals. They attack the field in every opportunity and by the time they harvest, there is only little yield.
The harvest last only for few months and they get drowned again in the poverty. They could save very little crops from the wild animals with even with so much hardship. Whole season of sleepless night, guarding the field was what they did the whole season. If not, not even a single corn of the maize can be harvested.  Hence, buried deep in the poverty, this is no other choice for the family but survives against all such odds.
This is the plight of a family in a remote village in Mongar, a part of the country, so far flung that it takes ages for the development to take place. Surplus is a word they have never heard of when even subsistence is rare thing. The world to them is what is within the four mountains and beyond is only the space.  
Bhutan developed so much just in few decades, which other countries have taken a century. With planned development having started only from 1960s, many communities were brought onboard and benefitted immensely from the developmental activities. The government aggressively pursued and took poverty eradication head on. But, there is no denying that there is lot many to reach out.
The figures are comforting when it reflects that, the poverty rate has been halved from 23% to 12% in last few years. For an educated lot, it is a big achievement.  They can relate the numbers to so many people freed from the poverty. But the family in the remote Mongar, they know nothing about the figure. Even if they can, they care least. What they care most is, how will they get to eat the next meal.

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