CAN TECHNOLOGY REDUCE POVERTY? IF YES, HOW? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
Before going further, let’s first understand, what is Poverty? What are it’s cause? What are the consequences?
Poverty‐ This is the most difficult challenges faced globally. Poverty is the state of not having enough income or material possessions for the basic needs of a person. It is about a “minimum” subsistence level of living rather than a “reasonable” level of living. It includes social, political and economic elements. Poverty trends in India and the world is estimated with the concept of poverty line. As of 2019, most people on the planet live in poverty: 85% live on less than $30 per day, two‐thirds live on less than $10 per day, and 10% live on less than $1.90 per day (extreme poverty).
CAUSES OF POVERTY
There is a number of causes for the widespread poverty across the world. These are: ‐
- Colonial Past
- Increasing Population
- Lack of Education and Literacy Corruption
- Limited resources
- Lack of jobs
CONSEQUENCES OF POVERTY
- Increased crime
- Poor health / malnutrition
Removal of poverty has been one of the major challenges faced on a global level and so, the Indian government has taken some anti‐poverty measures, which is mainly based on two planks:
- Promotion of economic growth.
- Targeted anti‐poverty programs.
Some of the anti‐poverty measures are: ‐
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 2005 was passed in September 2005. It aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’ by providing at least 100 days of wage employment.
- National Food for Work Programme (NFWP) was launched in the year 2004 in 150 most backward districts of the country. This Programme is open for all rural poor who have the desire to do manual unskilled work and are in need of wage employment.
- Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) was started in the year 1993. It aims to create self‐employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth.
- Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) was launched in 1995. It aims to create self‐employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns.
- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) was launched in the year 2000. The aim of this programme is to provide food to millions of the poorest families.
Are these anti‐poverty programs sufficient and successful enough in removing poverty?
The answer is no. Although, poverty rate has declined but still a large portion of our population lives in poverty. Many schemes and programmes have been implemented to remove poverty but there is not any systematic attempt to know exactly about who are in poverty and what are their needs. Also, the government has not committed to support an individual. The resources allocated are limited. These are the limitations.
Technology can change the lives of the poor by furnishing and empowering them. It is one of the most effective solutions of poverty as it gives several opportunities to end poverty. Here are the points,
- Improves the value of the service applied‐ With the help of technology, the quality of the output will increase and as a result, the earnings will also increase.
- Reduces the manufacturing cost as well as time‐ As a result, the poor has access to the goods and services
- Increases knowledge‐ Lack of proper knowledge is one of the major causes of the poverty. By using technologies such as television, internet the poor has access to quality education, they can also learn new skills for free.
- Increases funds for the poor‐ Most trust uses internet for the collection of funds in order to support the needy for their better lives and better future.
- Due to lack of information and communication, there is a large gap between the rich and the poor. Technology has made it possible for the poor to get information and also they can communicate to any part of the world.
- Increases the production rate‐ Small farmers often suffer from low agricultural yields due to the traditional method of farming. But , the technology has made it possible for them to know about modern methods of farming and hence the production rate is increasing.
- Saves many life‐ The poor population is mostly affected by the natural disasters like flood, earthquakes, tsunami, etc. The use of social media and mobile phones has helped in saving the lives by giving high alert about these natural disasters.
- Helps to earn money easily‐ By using social media like youtube, Instagram, tik‐tok, etc. one can earn easily by sharing photos, videos, news and other media.
- Improves the health‐ In rural areas, there is a lack of hospitals and other health facilities. Patients can meet the doctors in virtual mode. Internet gives us immediate information related to a particular health condition and also the treatment plans.
We can say that the technology is sufficient in removing all the major causes of poverty. But, it has some disadvantages as well.
What are the disadvantages?
In simple words, it is making us lazy. Let’s see, how. Nowadays, as we are totally dependent on technology. So, we don’t need to and we don’t want to think much even if we are doing small calculation. The aim of technology is mainly to reduce the human effort, which has resulted in the replacement of human by machines and as a result, it is creating unemployment‐the major problem faced by today’s youth. The use of technology in companies is reducing the cost as well as time and hence money also. Major part of the population depends on technology for each and every thing, some of us can’t even imagine our lives without it. Many of us share our personal information on the internet, which results in cyber crimes. It leads to the social isolation, reduces our creativity, skills, etc.
“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.”