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Poor or illiterate?

Indian cities have a huge population living in slums & they are regarded as “below poverty line” (BPL) citizens.  This is derived by calculating the wages earned by them on a yearly basis.  But I feel this criteria is incorrect, rather these people are blessed with freebies and live a happy life.

Ill discuss what my understanding is & I hope it isn’t offending anyone.  I live in Pune (Poona) which is a non-metro city & regarded as a tier-1 city which is gaining lot of prominence not only within India but throughout the world, thanks to the IT industry and educational institutions.   In my childhood, my mom sent me to the “mehfil” (gathering) in a mosque.  This mosque is called “Aina masjid” (mirror mosque), here I had to attend a weekly class for 30 mins to learn & read the Holy Quran.  There were around 40-50 other children who came to attend this mehfil.  Since the mosque is close to the slums, most of the children came from there.  The first day I was very annoyed and disappointed at where I was being sent.  But my mom told me to focus on what I was going there for rather than bother about the surroundings – basically she meant I had no choice.  The children were very different from my cousins or those whom I interacted with in school.  They wore old fashioned clothes and would really stink if I sat close by.  Hardly anyone wore slippers, forget shoes.  No one wore a watch!  I thought they never bathe as well 😦  Not that I was like them, but since I had no choice I went there consistently, for 2 years.  And I did learn a lot in those 2 years – lots of Hadees were told which I never knew of, I became fluent in my Arabic reading skills, the correct way to offer salat (Namaaz / Prayer).  But one of the more important aspect was I got to interact with these kids which was such an eye opener to me.  Reason is I always felt these kids were very poor, illiterate and their parents are either not alive or they are not doing any work to earn money.  Well I was wrong, my impression was based on the observation of their appearance.  The fact was all these kids went to school and most of them had both parents working at some job and some even had elder siblings who earned.  Some lived in joint families which had multiple bread earners under one roof.  I never calculated the finances minutely, but they all seemed to be having a cash inflow which was much better than mine!  Now I wondered why did they live in the slum?  why is their appearance so shabby? if they are getting schooled why cant they speak English?  Well its hard to believe it but their elders insist on living that way because their ancestors did so or maybe they were worse off.

I concluded these people are not poor but illiterate!

There are exceptions in them where a family is genuinely poor and illiterate, but that list is so small you can count them on your fingers.  Its sad but true & I hope and pray they all learn to educate / improve themselves one day so that the next generation has a better mentality.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Miscellaneous | Leave a comment