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Nations Need to Get their Priorities Straight First

Many reasons for nations being poor!

There might be many reasons why some countries are still poor. The poor distribution of wealth and opportunities among people and corruption are the main reasons. Globalization of world has also been proved a bane for many nations like the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Somalia etc. But the lesser obvious reason for countries lagging behind others is their obsession of Infrastructure development.

One might think that how could the love for infrastructure development be a hindrance to the prosperity of a nation? And, which are the nations which are lagging from rest due to their focus on infrastructure development? You will be surprised to know that counties like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Kenya are the nations which could have been developed nations by now; had their priority been human capital development rather than infrastructure development in initial decades of their independence.

When poverty and its contrast become a general scene of a nation.

Education, health, and justice are the main components of human development. It takes only a few years to build roads, bridges and tall skyscrapers. But, building a good education system, good health care system and a speedy justice delivery system take decades and even generations. Until these basic systems are in place it does not matter how big expressways a nation build, how many metros they have, how many malls they construct – a county will still be struggling to be called as a developed nation. In these nations you will see a metro train but also the poor sitting on its floor. You will see beggars in front of shinny shops and malls. You will see women laborers working at building sites bringing their children with them.

Different poverty alleviation programs in developing countries

For poverty alleviation, many nations are running different programs. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian labor law and social security measure which aims to guarantee the “right to work” for poor. Pakistan launched Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in July 2008 to help poor families with monthly income support . A similar program is being run by Bangladesh named Safety Net System for the Poorest (SNSP). There are other numerous programs in these nations and other developing countries but poverty in these nations are still prevalent. United Nations fear that to end poverty in these nations it might take some more decades until it is completely eradicated.

People acting foolish.

The main reason poverty is not diminishing in some nations is the priorities of their governments. General people too have acted the fool while demanding big highways, metro trains, supermarkets etc,. Instead, they should have been demanding quality education, proper healthcare facilities and justice for their development.

It is true that a motorway takes 1-2 year to build and this ‘shows up’ compared to building a school which educates a children and makes them engineers and doctors. Grooming up a child till he becomes engineer may take 25-30 years. But, that child is worth 25-30 KM of highway made in a day. Building a mall takes 2-3 year but building a hospital with proper doctors and health care takes 20 years. But, a single hospital is worth 20 malls. This has been the reason governments focus has been to pluck these low hanging fruits. The people were happy to taste these fruits whose benefits were always temporary.

The Greed for low hanging fruits.

People should think of their children and not themselves if they want their grandchildren live in a country which is more prosperous and peaceful than what it is now. If you compare the progress done by developing countries with developed ones, you would realize it is their focus on education, health, and justice made them pull more people out of poverty than their counterpart. China is an important example for us. It pulled 70 million people out of poverty in 30 years. Today china is a booming economy and its infrastructures are one of the best in the world.

World on an average spends 9.921 % of GDP on health, while India spends 4.68 % and Pakistan spends 2.6 % of GDP on health. Similarly, on education India spends 3.842 %, Pakistan spends 2.647 % while the world average is 4.7 % of GDP. Same is the case with other nations whose focus is not the human capital and human resource development but the infrastructure. This is the reason Pakistan even having a 27th biggest economy in terms of PPP has over 44.97% people living below this poverty line. When a nation has not set its priorities right, you would see photos from India, Pakistan and Africa if you search ‘poverty’ in Google.

Drafting a new miracle on a river…

It is easier to ‘term’ the economic growth of Korea as Miracle of River Han. Taiwanese miracle is enticing too. But, we overlook the fact that one of their generation has worked really hard to achieve these miracles. Japan and Germany could build their nations’ infrastructure very quickly after World War 2 because they had invested in their people. These people served as an asset for these nations.

Almost all the nations whose first priority was human development in earlier stages of economic policies, their infrastructure development was so quick that later came to known as ‘miracle’. If India has to achieve ‘miracle of river Ganges’, Pakistan has to achieve the ‘miracle of river Ravi’ and Nigeria has to achieve the ‘miracle of river Niger’, their priority should be human development rather than infrastructure development.

Hence chest thumping on having things like ‘biggest bridge’, ‘tallest skyscraper’ and so on does not suite a nation with poor people. The focus of people in developing nations should be human resource and not the brick and mortar.

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