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Poverty And Its Impact On Children –
A Wake Up Call

By Loveleen

02 November, 2006

‘The Times’ UK edition issue dated October 9, 2006 had an opinion piece on edit page titled “It’s just as you might think : being poor can damage your brain”

The piece was written by Anjana Ahuja and it says that ‘Poor kids tend to fare badly at school. Rich children tend to do better. Poverty seems to run, like an oppressive thread, through the generations. Affluence also knits generations together, although that thread has a silkier sheen.

She rightly says in her piece that this is no great revelation, but may be writing about this call for action. She looks at the issue of poverty, impact on children and why poverty is so often paired with low intellectual attainment which could prove seismic. She adds a research experience of Martha Farah, the Director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, has raised the possibility that a deprived childhood may affect the physical development of the brain and render its owner less intellectually capable. Professor Farah as quote in the article very strongly compares poverty and behaviour-altering drugs as Ritalin as an agent that can change the fundamentals of who you are.

She adds in her piece about how poverty can impact children. She adds Poverty harms children in a very concrete way – by altering their brains. She is not saying anything new but point is once again she is making a point and basically people to action.

Probably when one looks at the statement and situation in India it may be true. India has highest number of malnourished children. Though, one part of India is shining while India still has large population which is below the poverty line. India still faces a major challenge of livelihood and food security. These issues have huge impact on malnourished children which affects their learning abilities and development especially the ones under three years of age.

In Madhya Pradesh in India more than 50% children are malnourished, and it has highest infant mortality rates in India. Interestingly, when one places this opinion piece against a news item published on October 19, in media in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It said that ‘MP marches into record book’ a news for ‘stand up against poverty’ campaign wherein 3.3 million people in the state stood up against poverty.

Am not sure when we are talking of an issue which have far fetched impact on children and our future generations, is this the only way to reduce poverty and address the issue of malnourishment and brain damage of children or the energies spent on events like could have been used in a better way ? A thought to ponder?.

Though it is clear that there is a strong need for action on the issue of poverty in India and globally and combating its impact on our future generations. Nevertheless a point well made by Anjana in her piece in The Times.

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