Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The media's curtain of illusion

This is an important article from Kevin Watkins of the UNHDRO in the Guradain today. Poverty has a tendency to be hidden in the mass media behind stories of economic growth, booming IT industry, property market and so on. This is true whatever country you consider including China, India and to a lesser extent Pakistan. It is a curtain of illusion that hides the desperate truth about the people who pay the cost of the miracle economies. The people at the receiving end are rarely considered as anything other than quaint 'poor people' who choose to inhabit shacks and dirt tracks out of choice when they could be living it up in the new booming economy. Poverty is repackaged as choice. This kind of extreme capitalism has been prevalent in South Asia and parts of Africa for a long time and is the cause of extreme poverty and social injustice. It is not doom mongering on my part to say that AIDS and other diseases are rampant. They are facts of everyday life for the poor. The struggle for food and water means that children are being educationally and nutritionally deprived. People are turfed off their land if they have any or are literally slaves to the rich. The assistance given by UNHCR and other NGOs is important but to some people it doesn't exist. They have never heard of it or seen it. Whether reports like this from UNHDRO have any tangible effect on governments in the region is doubtful.


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