Mentality of Poverty

There was something quite good I read somewhere yesterday that I wanted to share. It said something like the mentality of poverty is even more dangerous than the poverty of income. It was said by a Nepali, female columnist Rubbena Mahato (Sp) in the Nepali Times (a news weekly in Nepal). I couldn’t agree more.

She is questioning intellectuals and experts who use the “we are poor and need help” tagline (and therefore possibly have a vested interest in keeping people poor and undeveloped in order to keep up the status quo).

It reminded me of the time when I was about 19 years old and had been sent to the terai to work on a photo story about women’s micro lending projects.

The head of the local NGO, ex PM Sher Bahadur Deuba’s wife, Arzoo Rana Deuba wanted me to include a chunk of boring statistics in the front of the audio visual presentation basically saying “women in Nepal are poor, uneducated” – a begging bowl right at the start.

I refused to do it and told my editor at the time I would not do it if it was not going to be done in the way I thought best, which was to present the story of Anita, a kamaiya (bonded laborer) working on the fields of her owner.

She had not heard about the great micro lending program that had come to her village. I started with her story mentioning that programs like these should reach people like Anita.

The local NGO of course was keen to show me their milk producing buffaloes they bought with micro-credit loans and their adult education classes which had clearly reached the women in the higher castes of the place.

I am not one scripted stories nor sound bytes.


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