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Why Tagore's holistic view of poverty contradicts modern economic discourse

By Harasankar Adhikari 

Poverty is a deeply ingrained and massive issue in India. It was during colonial rule, and it is as usual under post-independence democratic rule. After 75 years of democratic rule, it increases daily, in spite of, the democratic government’s many policies and programmes. It is a strategic failure at all levels. Finally, the government changed the determinants of poverty line measurement, and it was successful in reducing the number of people living below the poverty line. As of 2016, the incidence of multidimensional poverty has almost halved between 2005–06 and 2015–16, declining from 54.7 percent to 37.5 percent.’ But during the Corona virus pandemic crisis, it revealed the real truth of the data related to poverty. It serves as a reminder that the "real solution" is to increase the income of the poor. 
It refers to a comment by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Most of us who try to deal with the poverty problem think of nothing but a greater intensive effort of production, forgetting that this only means a greater exhaustion of materials as well as of humanity. This only means giving an exaggerated opportunity for profit to a few, at the cost of the many. It is food which nourishes, not money. It is fullness of life which makes one happy, not fullness of purse. Multiplying materials intensifies the inequality between those who have and those who have not, and this deals a fatal wound to the social system, through which the whole body is eventually bled to death.’
Therefore, Tagore’s thought on poverty is different, but it is fundamental so far as human behaviour is concerned. It is still relevant in every society today. He opined, "Man's poverty is abysmal, his wants are endless till he becomes truly conscious of his soul. "Until then, the world is a phantasm to him—a phantasm that is and is not." According to him, poverty is defined as "a lack of opportunity for people to express themselves creatively rather than a lack of income." 
‘The poverty problem is not so important. It is the problem of unhappiness that is the great problem. Happiness may not compete with wealth in its list of needed materials, but it is creative, therefore it has its own source of richness within itself. Our object is to flood the choked bed of village life with streams of happiness.’ Alleviation of poverty is to find out ‘opportunities for creative engagements of disadvantaged people which would keep them fulfilled in life irrespective of their material dispositions.’
Tagore's holistic view of "poverty" contradicts modern economic discourse. His view focuses on the creativity of human beings. He thought that economic poverty was not the primary concern. Marx desired that the revolution allow the working class to write their own history. This revolution was not intended to address the issue of working-class poverty. 
According to Marx, ‘the revolution would raise productivity so much that everyone would have enough to consume, but certainly in the period of transition to such a state, members of the working class would continue to die in poverty while leaving behind them their unfettered contributions to the history of human creativity. This is to overcome poverty in terms of a lack of creative freedom and opportunities, rather than to alleviate material poverty as seen in modern economic discourse.'
The government usually allows some alms or charity for the poor. But Tagore said, "There is only one God-given right to do good to people - it is the right of love. There is no dishonour in a gift of love". This love is absent in the government’s initiative. Only publicity does not bring love and happiness to its citizens.
Would this democratic government consider and make genuine efforts for its citizens?

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