Saturday, July 02, 2005

Castro Redux

Fidel Castro has never vied for any title as grand as the messiah of the poor. He has been more famous for holding fort at one of the last bastions of Marxist governing principles. But in a recent address to an UNCTAD conference, he did throw some startling numbers on the prevalence of poverty. Not only of people but of countries too. Though good portions of his speech were dedicated to taking shots at his ‘imperialist’ foes, he does make some significant points about how large sets of people and some countries would continue into a downward spiral. Unless someone from outside did something, that is.

Poverty is a given today. Worldwide or countrywide. Especially in our country where the inescapable truth (about the BPL population) hits you at every traffic signal or the local trains or at the entrance to places of worship. If we are carrying one-fifth of the world’s population, we should also have one-fifth of the world’s poor, right? Or More?! Common knowledge as they may seem, the sheer numbers still never fail to overwhelm one. Atleast they did me.

  • The Third World received as 54 billion USD as official development aid in 2003 while they paid 436 billion in debt service in the same year
  • 25 years ago five hundred million people were starving and today the number is over 800 million
  • 325 million children do not attend school
  • 85% of the world population lives in the poor countries but their share of international trade is only 25%
  • External debt of poor countries was 50 billion USD in 1964 and has grown to 2.6 trillion today

Mr Castro offers these facts and more in an attempt to present a case for a multi-pronged strategy including debt service assistance, healthcare assistance and population control. But in the process, the Cuban President stops short of offering any concrete ideas which might bring us around to think that the pitch he made is worth it after all. Towards the end, he does call his audience to ‘plant new ideas’ to circumvent the issues facing the world. More importantly, he reserves his best for the very last:

“The question stands, is it not too late? I am an optimist, I say no, and I share the hope that a better world is possible.”

The full text can be found here.

PS: Though light years apart on the political spectrum, leaders worldwide could look and sound strangely similar!


Krish said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. You seem to be blogging fairly frequently :-)

Pen said...

yes, started posting recently. the going's good so far. :) thanx..

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... You write well Koka :)

Call me.