Monday June 27, 2022

Caring is good

May 19, 2022

LAHORE: Poverty is tolerable if it is not accompanied with hunger; wealth is good if it helps human beings under stress. Petty theft should be punished, but those looting national wealth must not be spared.

There are many dimensions of poverty. To live without shame is one dimension. Those that demean a person because of poverty are an insult to humanity.

Deprivations are of many types. A physically handicapped person has no control over his disability. Still if the person is from a richer segment of society he is pampered. Another person with a similar disability but belonging to a poor family is looked down on. He is not allowed at functions. This is the general attitude of our society.

A poor family has no issue if it possesses a shelter and sufficient food for all family members. They do not desire air conditioners or cars for travelling. They tolerate load shedding. In fact, the hot air circulated by the sole fan in a small room is more bothersome when the light is coming.

They have no issue if the rich families are living comfortably with air conditioners running 24/7. But they do want respect as citizens of this country.

Every government tries to please the poor through addictive subsidies and pamper the rich with top class civic amenities. The poor remain dependent on state dole outs, while the rich operating monopolies continue minting money.

Wealth is the basic barometer of respect in our society. We are facing acute power shortages because the power we produce is expensive and the government defaults on payments to the power producers. We are providing subsidised power to millions of households that have installed two to three air conditioners.

Why can we not ban the use of these machines during peak hours of power demand? Why can we not ban the use of private cars on major roads during rush hour? Why do we hesitate to share rides with our neighbours going daily to the same destination where we go? Why do we waste resources that are scarce in our country? In hot summer months, at least the members of a family can share an air conditioning facility.

There is no need to import luxury items that consume most of our foreign exchange. There is no need to import processed food, fruits, lipstick or nail polishes. We as a nation cannot afford to ply highly expensive luxury cars on Pakistani roads. Our rich can use smaller cars.

There must be prohibitive duties on import of luxury cars and a high road user tax collected monthly. Rich must understand that if they failed to adopt austerity, they would be deprived of their belonging by unruly mobs. They should start respecting human beings on the basis of humanity and not on the basis of wealth.

We need a peaceful transition under which the poor are released slowly from the hegemonic attitude of the rich. We will not afford an unruly change in behaviour of the deprived. If that happens it will be a doomsday for all of us.