Tuesday, December 30, 2014

India: The Time I Thought About Poverty

The education system here is very... different from the one I'm accustomed to in America. While they claim to shape kids through harsh discipline, evident through the strict uniforms and unnecessary school rules dictating hair style and behavior, the things that actually matter aren't enforced whatsoever.

For example, my cousin practically does double the schoolwork he needs to. Here, they have school, the regular classes during the day within a government-funded building with government-funded teachers. But afterwards they have "class" or known as "tuition" where they relearn everything they learned at school with a different teacher, one who actually teaches. Also they have school on Saturday, and I'm not about that life.

At the end of their 10th and 12th year, they take their "boards", which, from what I gathered, basically determine their future. Based on the grades from these "boards", you essentially pick what field you want to go into. The highest grades give you all the options (art, business, science, etc.), and as your grades get lower, your options decrease. And college is the same way, except without all the essays (the one thing about the Indian education system I wish we had).

Also these government-funded teachers don't care about cheating. People will swap papers during the exam period and copy essays word for word and the teachers don't bat an eye.

Anyways, enough about the school system.

If you haven't been to India, let me tell you something, it is stricken with poverty. People sell balloons and trinkets to make ends meet and even then you can find them settled in their mud shacks on the side of the road. They beg and they plead for money, anything to get some food and water into their and their children's mouths, but no one bats an eye at them, no one even acknowledges their presence.

Today, my mother, probably one of the best people in the world, spent money to give an old man and three children dinner. After everyone else told her no, she still went ahead and did it. And I can't help but wonder whether it was naivety or compassion that drove her to do this. For some reason, we've gotten it into our heads that people in poverty (mainly beggars) are manipulative. That they are trying to get money to spend on pointless things like alcohol. And while for some that is the case, which is extremely sad, it's not the case for all. Some people truly need help. We're just too scared and distrusting to give it to them. But then I have to ask myself, if these people were really in need and wanted to get out of their position, rather than roaming the streets begging for money, shouldn't they be working hard to pull themselves up the ranks? By answering their requests for money, are we, in fact, promoting this lifestyle?