Helping Poor People Change Behaviour for a Better Tomorrow

Saturday 3 June 2017


The rising inequity between the rich and the poor in recent decades has also triggered off another rift - that of behaviour. While the rich make decisions for their own betterment, the poor are often deprived of the insights that steer them to make the right choices. It is therefore important to not only provide them access, but also knowledge of the right conduct that can ensure a sustainable future for them.

Along with giving them access to essential information, nutrition, and healthcare services, civil society must also seek to change a few key behaviours. These behaviours will define the destiny of communities, and often may seem like a disruption in the status-quo of poor communities.

These include:

i. Putting aside child labour: Instead of attempting to 'support' the family by working as a child, boys and girls must be encouraged to focus exclusively on education. Stable, respectable employment is a stepping-stone to ending poverty, while developing the skills and insights to increase income. On the other hand, temporary, wages based part time income is difficult to sustain, save, and cannot be invested carefully.

ii. Marriage and have children later: The decision to marry must be made at a later stage.  This allows both men and women to prioritise education, a steady and respectable employment, and a fulfilling career.  Marriage, without being able to sustain the family also must be discouraged.  Encouraging women to work will ensure that marriages create wealth in society, instead of merely pressuring men.

As can be seen in the richer strata of society, both men and women are delaying marriage for career and stability.  This ensures that the children of these families are born in more stable circumstances, paving the way to better education and opportunities, giving them a head-start to their poorer counterparts.

Iii. Family planning: The developed nations of the world prioritise family planning, and smaller families. At a micro-level, it reduces the amount of strain on household resources, thereby reducing poverty rates.

These behaviours are essential to transform communities, and give future generations the kind of role models that will encourage them to use opportunities to the fullest. India's growth makes it an ideal destination for immense work opportunity and employment.   However, it is important to find employment in areas which are skill-based, instead of labour-based. This prevents anti-social tendencies such as depending on handouts from friends and families , illegal earning methods. This will also ensure a strong work ethic, preventing the tendency to experiment with crime.

Joblessness not only causes poverty, but also behavioural problems that sustain poverty, e.g.  drug addiction. This is due to the impact of discipline from a regular work schedule.

Conclusion

Therefore, civil society initiatives must address the cultural and behavioural impact of poverty, instead of assuming that simply providing access to resources can end poverty. This must be supplemented with reforming communities to develop an appreciation for education, work-ethic, and family planning. Civil society must invest in training and education, instead of merely providing food and care.  Government program also must demand work as a condition of aid, as seen in the West.

Leading child rights NGO Save the Children works to change community behaviours by encouraging girl child education, respectable employment, and refusal to engage in child labour.  Inculcating these mindsets, along with providing aid to communities in times of need has made them capable of making knowledge-based choices.