Cruel face of poverty

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Amidst widespread concern and condemnation, shock and sympathy over the discovery of one mass grave of illegal migrants, mostly from Myanmar and Bangladesh, after another in the remote and rugged terrains of southern Thailand in recent days, the report of a poor scrap-picker mother’s having allegedly sold her newborn seems to have had little resonance with the collective conscious or conscience of society. It should have because it reflects the desperation for some reprieve from enduring and excruciating poverty, which is, in a way, similar to the one that had prompted the deceased illegal migrants from Bangladesh to undertake the perilous journey by sea only to face unimaginable cruelty and subsequently death.

According to a report published in New Age on Tuesday, a 55-year-old woman was caught with the newborn by her co-passengers in a Faridpur-bound bus and handed them over to the police on Monday afternoon. While the mother denied having sold the infant, she admitted that she had given her third child to the elderly woman as ‘I find it difficult to raise the two other children I already have.’

Sold or just given away, her decision represents a cruel reality that the ruling elite may have given rise to, in pursuit of a decidedly distorted development model, in the first place and appear so intent on denying the existence of. It is not the first time that poverty has forced a woman to make such a cruel choice, nor is likely to be the last. Over the years, instances have been galore where newborn children were either sold or left abandoned on roadsides and even in dustbins by their parents.

Most of these cases betray more than the apparent heartlessness of the parents — their desperate hope that whoever found their children would at least give them three meals a day that they could not provide. Most importantly, these incidents highlight the sustained failure of the state to live up to its ‘fundamental responsibility’, as ordained by the constitution of the republic, to secure all its citizens ‘the provision of the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care’ through a ‘planned economic growth’.

It goes without saying that the economic growth that successive governments have planned and delivered has resulted in the concentration of wealth and opportunities in the hands of a few and marginalisation of the many. The economic growth that they have so tirelessly showcased to the national and international audience has not even translated into two square meals a day for a vast majority of the people.

It is imperative that the ruling elite should abandon the existing development model that has created such levels of poverty in society that so many women have had to give up their newborns, and so many young men have had to end up dead in faraway shores, in their desperation for a respite from economic hardship.

Source: New Age