Reducing Inequalities and Ensuring Access to Basic Needs

Hazra, Srijani | November 14, 2017 | Leave a Comment

This article was originally published by Alternative Perspectives. The original article can be found here.

India is welcoming a trend of growth and development; at the same time the population is growing too. However, the standard of living is increasing only for a certain segment of people, environmental challenges are becoming evident, and access to resources is increasingly becoming inequitable. In order to make a transition towards a more just and sustainable society with a greener economy, India must invest in its people to ensure that they have equitable access to natural and financial resources or capital.

Growing inequality and unemployment, particularly among the young, hinders human potential and innovation. Thus, a greener economy explores opportunities for redistributing access to natural resources, financial capitals and knowledge systems, which is more resilient and inclusive.


For ‘investing in people’ multiple meanings have emerged. Most of the people associate investment only with money, and success of the investment is measured in terms of returns that we receive. However, during the discussions at TARAgram Yatra, it came out that ‘investment’ does not have only monetary associations, but also includes spending/allocation in terms of natural resources, knowledge capital, human resources etc. It was concluded that a ’by default’ inclination of investments towards infrastructure, and not people, had resulted in an imbalance in the society.

Access to Resources – Natural, Financial and Knowledge Capital

Ensuring   an equal distribution of resources requires the identification of the needs of people. Many a times, the community adopts market’s needs as its individuals’ needs. However, it should be vice versa – individuals’ needs should be of prime importance, and only the surplus should be given to the market. In order to do so, communities are often heavily dependent on banks and informal loan lenders like sahukars, as they are not aware of their rights and the different facilities under various schemes. Access to traditional occupation is becoming extinct. Neither is enough encouragement provided, nor is the platform for accessing and enhancing traditional knowledge systems. This leads to lack of employment, thus resulting in loss of skills. Investment in quality of education is another key concern in terms of accessing knowledge systems. In the discussion, it came out that traditional knowledge systems and economic growth are already poles apart, and the incentives promoted by government often delink and widen the gap between the two.

Information Education Communication (IEC) is considered to be the most effective method for ensuring accessibility by making knowledge hubs accessible to people. For this purpose, duplication of beneficiaries under various schemes must be avoided. A common goal should be set up and, thus, an integrated scheme must be introduced to ensure the needs of people. Digitalisation of the database helps in monitoring groups and keeping a track of the progress of the systems. Also, documentation of the best practices is one of the key ways to preserve and enhance knowledge systems.

There are different ways to improve people’s access to resources. Diversification in terms of alternate livelihood should be explored. There is a need for strengthening the institutional building process, and thus, for regular and rigorous training of bank officers, government representatives and spreading awareness in the community to increase access to entitlements.

Decentralised Decision Making Process

In order to implement all of the above mentioned initiatives, there is a need to focus more on community drive, than on individual one. Moreover, the voice of the marginalised section of the society also needs to be heard and considered in the decision making process. Decentralisation of decision making is possible only if identification process of the right beneficiary is followed, social auditing is done by a third party regularly, and there is a continuous flow of knowledge.

This article was originally published by Alternative Perspectives. The original article can be found here.

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  • Julian Cribb

    Why the exclusive focus on babies? We also need to focus on old people living longer, more consumptive lives. For instance, a person in a developed country like America eats 35,000 more meals than someone in an African country with a low life expectancy.

  • JohnTaves

    Basic needs cannot possibly met if we average too many babies. This is a finite planet.

    Averaging too many babies for too long ensures that children must die. (x-2)/x children must die when we average x babies. If the total subsistence is growing, or the adult life expectancy is falling, or the average age that the babies are created at is increasing, or the subsistence inequality is shrinking (very similar to total subsistence is growing), then fewer than that formula dictates must die. NONE of those 4 attributes can be changing for long. They are all bounded.

    Humans have obviously existed for too long and have always averaged more than 2. The recent few hundred years are remarkable historically because we have increased subsistence production dramatically. This has fooled everyone, including the population experts behind the MAHB, into believing that somehow magically we have not yet reached the population limit.

    Population experts have no definition for the population limit. Probably because they assume we are not at it, then can’t seem to comprehend what the population limit must be. It is dirt simple. The population limit is the situation where children are dying as a consequence of averaging too many babies. We can be at the population limit at the same time that the population is growing because subsistence can be growing. We have always been at the population limit.

    It seems impossible to determine if child mortality is happening because we are averaging too many babies or whether they are dying regardless of how many babies we average. However:

    1) groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality are PROOF that we are averaging too many. There is one and only one species that can prevent a group of humans from getting the subsistence they need that simply grows on this planet. Other humans. Averaging too many babies, ensures there are loser groups that are dirt poor and suffering starvation related child mortality.

    2) In order to ensure we don’t average too many, we have to create babies in response to death to ensure we don’t suffer deaths in response to attempting to put too many people into Earth. Clearly there is no such mechanism that ensures this.

    India, cannot possibly eliminate inequality and cannot possibly ensure all basic needs are met if the world continues to average too many babies.

    What do I have to write to get people to comprehend this? What will it take to get someone, anyone to pay attention to this and think about it? How about it, could maybe the population experts behind the MAHB actually pay attention and comment?

    • Julian Cribb

      Why the exclusive focus on babies? We also need to focus on old people living longer, more consumptive lives. For instance, a person in a developed country like America eats 35,000 more meals than someone in an African country with low life expectancies.

      • JohnTaves

        The planet is finite in size and averaging more than 2 babies attempts exponential growth to infinity. That attempt must fail. Nature can only stop that attempt by killing children. For example, if the subsistence supply is held steady so that the population cannot grow, and we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of them cannot become adults and contribute to the average number of babies. 1/3rd of the children will die.

        For some reason that I cannot explain, our population scientists, including Paul Ehrlich, Joel Cohen, and countless others that have written extensively on the topic, including everyone that has posted comments here, all know that bad stuff will happen if we average too many babies for too long. They somehow fail to recognize that dead children is the one and only bad stuff that must happen. They somehow fail to recognize that human history is obviously too long. And they fail to recognize that not only nothing prevents us from averaging too many, nothing but knowledge can prevent us from averaging too many. They fail to recognize that because we form groups (countries, families, villages, tribes, etc,) those deaths will be suffered by the weakest groups. They fail to recognize that averaging too many babies will create weak groups that suffer starvation related child mortality. We have those groups, yet we keep believing that we need to even out consumption as you have suggested.

        In pure math terms, (x-2)/x children must die when we average x babies. If we are evening out consumption, or raising the average age that the babies are created, or if adult life expectancy is dropping, or if subsistence production is increasing, then fewer than that formula dictates must die. None of those factors can be changing forever. Every solution on the consumption side, like say reducing the number of American meals are eaten in a lifetime so that others can eat more to extend their lifetime, which is “evening out consumption”, is only a temporary solution. These will reduce the expected child mortality rate only as long as the differential is dropping, or the per capita consumption is dropping. These cannot drop forever. They are bounded values. Eventually we will all get exactly the minimum number of calories, and still, if we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children will die.

        Here’s another way of looking at it. Imagine if there was a machine at every entrance to the building you are in that pushes another person into the building every second. You and everyone else is demanding that we make room for these people; put them on your shoulders, stuff them under the bed, get them into the closets, and some can fit in the cupboards. These solutions will reduce the death rate only temporarily. Deaths will resume at 1 per second as soon as those spaces are filled. The machine must be stopped. It is the killer. All other solutions are not just a total waste of time, they are destructive. If we attempt to provide space for each person stuffed into the building, we will all end up miserable and yet every second someone will be killed. Instead, we should lock the doors to each room to ensure the killing happens as close to the entrances as possible, so that the ones occupying the rest of the building can live in comfort.

        Averaging more than 2 babies is that machine. It is just as ruthless. It is no less a killer. The better question is why are you mentioning temporary solutions and not focusing on the killing machine?

        Let me ask you this. If you and 1000 other people were getting onto a space ship, that can comfortably keep 1000 people alive, and was going to take several generations to reach some other planet, would you be OK with people having as many babies as they wanted? What number would be the magic number of babies per couple to ensure the ship population did not grow? Would you say “Yea, I’ll eat fewer meals, go ahead and have another child”? Now please tell me how we are not already on that space ship.

        I am not trying to be insulting, but why is this so difficult for people to understand?

        Almost every single posting I have made has been met with stony silence. When someone does reply and I clarify, I get silence. Why?

        I have invented terms and phrases to explain this stuff. For example, I say “averaging more than 2 babies” and I will bet almost every population scientists will read that to mean “a total fertility rate above 2” and conclude I am confused. I do not mean “a total fertility rate above 2”. I can explain my phrase, and why it is so valuable and much more useful than the terms population scientists use. Can anyone understand this? Is anyone curious? Will someone ask me to clarify, or correct me?