information and stories about India.

a new kind of bindiWhether wealthy or poor, the women of India are proud of their heritage and embrace their unique culture. One of the most noticeable components of Indian women’s culture is the bindi. While the rest of the world views it as a simple accessory, this tiny dot that sits in the middle of the woman’s forehead is a key element of reflecting Hinduism. Today the bindi is capable of being more than a religious adornment. The Life Saving Dot is a new kind of bindi that provides its wearer with a daily dose of iodine.

Iodine Deficiency in India

Iodine Deficiency Disorder, or IDD, is especially common in India due to the lack of iodized soil and nutrition. The Life Saving Dot has not only directly improved women’s health, but has also brought attention to the importance of including iodine in the everyday diet.

IDD is common especially in India for a number of reasons. The soil in India is famous for its lack of iodization, leaving crops with an insufficient amount of iodine. A majority of Indians favor a vegetarian diet and rarely eat seafood, which is another important source of iodine. A lack of iodized nutrition and a simple lack of awareness are the main contributors to IDD in India.

Iodine deficiency leads to a number of health issues. It is the largest contributor to brain damage which is often permanent. IDD is especially common among women as it affects pregnancy and can lead to breast cancer. Although IDD can have severe consequences, the disorder itself is easily preventable with a sufficient daily dose of iodine.

The Life Saving Dot: How it Works

The technology of the Life Saving Dot is comparable to that of a nicotine patch. The wearer absorbs the nutrients through her skin while wearing the patch. The Life Saving Dot provides the wearer with 150 to 200 micrograms of iodine when worn for at least four hours. While most women wearing the Life Saving Dot report beneficial results, the effectiveness of the dot will depend on certain factors such as skin thickness and even weather. The precipitation level of the current climate has the potential to affect the effectiveness of the dot.

This small dot has had a tremendous impact on the overall health of Indian women. Women wearing this bindi have reported a decrease in headaches, a common side effect of iodine deficiency. Costing only 10 rupees (equivalent to 16 cents in USD) for a pack of 30 dots, it is easily accessible to women of all income levels in India.

Impact of the Life Saving Dot

While the Life Saving Dot has a clearly direct impact on women’s health, perhaps the most important success of the dot is the awareness it created. The greatest contributor to IDD in India is a simple lack of awareness of the importance of iodine. An easy and effective way to combat iodine deficiency is by cooking with iodized salt. However, a significant number of Indian households were unaware of its importance.

India has made great progress in the search for IDD alleviation. According to a recent survey conducted from October 2018 to March 2019, awareness of iodized salt benefits is at 62.2% in urban areas and 50.5% in rural areas. Out of the 21,406 households included in the survey, 76.3% now have iodized salt in the home.

Awareness of iodine necessity increased due to media and the efforts of the Life Saving Dot. This new kind of bindi allows women to represent their proud culture while protecting their health. The direct health benefits of the Life Saving Dot are awe-inspiring and the awareness it presents is life-saving. By improving the awareness of the importance of incorporating iodine into one’s diet, families are protected from goiter, pregnancy complications and even brain disorders. Thanks to a small dot on the forehead, Indian women and their families are protected from IDD and the potential health risks it brings.

– Brittany Carter 
Photo: Flickr

Health Technology in India
With India’s population nearing 1.4 billion, its health care system must be equipped to meet the needs of its people. The health care industry has struggled to keep up with the burden of disease and various health issues in the country, but has significantly expanded its reach in recent years, facilitated by almost doubling the investment in health technology in India. Some of the health challenges that India faces include inequalities resulting from access issues and inadequate resources.

The Ayushman Bharat program, launched in 2018 by the government, has aimed to move toward comprehensive health care with the end goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Included in this program is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), the largest health insurance program globally. The health coverage provided by PM-JAY targets the poorest 40% of the Indian population. This health insurance plan is cashless and paperless, with all information accessible from IT platforms. These improvements have grown the Indian health care industry, which is expected to be worth $372 billion by 2022. Here are other ways health care in India can be improved by technology.

Telemedicine and Disease Mapping

Investment in health technology in India can help address issues such as access gaps, the shortage of health workers and low doctor-to-patient ratios. Smartphones and online programs, such as messaging services, are being used to facilitate communication between doctors and patients, tackling geographical barriers to access to doctors and allowing easier access to consults, appointments and medical information.

Disease mapping is another aspect of health technology in India that is crucial to gaining an understanding of the largest health issues in various geographical areas and providing a visual representation of health disparities across the country. The Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), founded in 2002, is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto and Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. CGHR does epidemiological research for the world’s poorest population. In addition to conducting many studies in India, the CGHR has created an interactive health map of the country to aid government and health officials.

Medical Databases

Online databases improve access to health data for both patients and doctors. This allows patients to receive medical information and data from home. Doctors can also monitor their patients if they are traveling or if they are helping patients in a different region. Many companies including Microsoft, Google and Amazon have made cloud services available to health care providers. Public as well as private sector health providers have increasingly been using these features.

In addition to generally improving the flow and accessibility of health information, clouds and databases increase the efficiency of health workers. Through these aspects of health technology in India, hospitals can consolidate data, and patient transfers and referrals become more organized. Using databases can also improve diagnoses and treatments by allowing doctors to easily access previous cases to inform their decisions regarding new patients.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Indian health care system is increasingly using more artificial intelligence. The aging population and growing rates of non-communicable diseases have resulted in a demand for technology that can help predict diagnoses and future health challenges in patients. AI and machine learning (ML) include algorithms that find patterns in large amounts of data.

These technologies allow doctors to benefit from thousands of patient cases and information that help in identifying trends. Doctors are then able to make more informed diagnoses for new patients and create effective treatment plans. By analyzing patient data, AI programs can help diagnose patients earlier than would otherwise be possible. They can also help identify patients that might be more vulnerable to certain conditions. This also increases the effectiveness of disease prevention programs.

The use of AI in health care also has the potential to improve doctors’ understanding of what risk factors contribute to disease. Heart disease and cardiac issues have become a leading cause of death in India and doctors hope to use AI to analyze data and gain understanding about the factors contributing to the trend.

Furthermore, AI has the potential to increase the affordability of health care. While increasing the use of health technology in India will initially be expensive, the costs will eventually diminish. The processes will become more streamlined and focused on each patient, improving overall efficiency and decreasing costs. Investing in technologies such as AI can also help make up for the lacking resources and increase the efficiency with which resources are used by improving the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment.

 

While health disparities in India are very pronounced, the increased use of health technology in India is promising and could potentially decrease the level of health inequity. Various uses of health technology can minimize the consequences of health worker and doctor shortages, facilitate access to medical services and information and improve doctors’ understanding of medical trends and social factors relating to health.

– Maia Cullen
Photo: Flickr

hunger in IndiaIndia has a constantly growing population of more than 1.3 billion. While its economy is booming, its unequal wealth distribution has created an issue for a large portion of the population. Over the past few decades, hunger in India has remained a prevalent issue for the population.

Undernourishment in India

Almost 195 million people (15% of the population) in India are undernourished. Undernourishment means that people are not able to supply their bodies with enough energy through their diet. In the 1990s, 190 million people in India were undernourished. That number remains the same today. Lack of proper diet leads to stunted growth for children; in India, 37.9% of children under the age of five experience stunted growth due to undernourishment.

Malnutrition in India

Malnutrition is one of the bigger implications of the overarching problems India has to deal with: a wide range of hunger, extreme cases of poverty, overpopulation and continually increasing population, a poor health system, and inaccurate national statistics due to the aforementioned overpopulation.

According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, India will not reach the minimum nutritional goals by 2025 set by the World Health Organization. With 46.6 million children stunted in growth, India “bears 23.8% of the global burden of malnutrition.” These goals include “reducing child overweight, wasting and stunting, diabetes among women and men, anemia in women of reproductive age and obesity among women and men, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding.”

Action Against Hunger

As a result of all these issues, there are organizations that are trying to help India in its pursuit to provide food to all. Action Against Hunger raises money through donations and uses these funds to provide sustainable food for impoverished areas of the world. For 40 years, they have been operating worldwide and have helped 21 million people in just the past year.

Action Against Hunger facilitates field testing and train small-scale farmers in sustainable practices. Additionally, the organization provides clean water to communities and helps populations in times of natural disasters or other conflicts.

Action Against Hunger launched its program in India in 2010. With a team of 144 workers, they helped over 75,000 people in just the last year. Much of their work has caught the attention of state governments. For example, they have partnered with the Indian state of Chhattisgarh to “offer technical support in the fight against malnutrition,” and plan to do so with other states as well. In Rajasthan, the organization executed the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program. As a result, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand recognized the organization for its advocacy efforts.

Moving Forward

While India may not reach the WHO goals in five years, progress continues to spread across the country. Each year, India is reducing the number of people who are malnourished. Organizations such as Action Against Hunger partnering up with local and state governments are the first step in helping pave the way for a hunger-free India.

– Shreya Chari 

Photo: Flickr

Citizenship Amendment Act Protests in IndiaBlood, tears and the echoes of piercing cries have filled India’s capital New Delhi for weeks now. People participating in peaceful anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India have face the wrath of violent police officers. India’s youth has taken to the streets to fight against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The CAA allows for the marginalization of the Muslim community by restricting their ability to gain citizenship in India. This has created great discomfort for many of the 138 million Muslims currently living in India, who make up around 13.4% of the total population.

The bill appears to be most beneficial to Hindus, who account for 80.5% of India’s population. Its introduction has caused a national uproar as it highlights century-old religious intolerance in India. Many argue that the bill is in violation of Article 15 of the Indian constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. The public has drawn similarities between the current situation and the problematic partition of Pakistan and India.

How does the CAA actually affect citizenship?

The CAA specifies that illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can receive Indian citizenship if they have proof of residence for six years under the condition that they affiliate with Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities. However, Muslim immigrants from the same countries must have proof of residence for at least 12 years; it is argued this component contravenes Article 14 (equality for all people) and Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. The bill reduces the Muslim community to “second-class citizens” based on their religion alone.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his dissatisfaction with the Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India. He defended the bill, claiming there was no harm in trying to uplift the religious majorities in India, especially because they were discriminated against in other countries, like Pakistan. His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has previously promoted policies and ideologies that favor Hindus and disfavor Muslims.

Further, members of the party have openly labeled Muslims as “terrorists” and have asserted that Hinduism is the dominant religion. Recently, BJP representative Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath claimed that the protests are stopping India from becoming a global power. However, he offered no explicit elaboration as to how they are doing so. It is evident that influential parts of the Indian government support and promote anti-Muslim sentiments.

Jamia Millia Islamia, a university in New Dehli with a significant population of Muslim students, is a center for Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India. Despite the peaceful nature of the protests, several videos of physical harassment at the hands of law enforcement have surfaced. This footage shows police charging students with lathis; many criticized this act for being unwarranted.

The Path to Equality: Pleas to the Supreme Court

Awareness about the CAA’s unjust components has spread across the country. Because of this, numerous petitions against the act have been filed at the Supreme Court of India. This same method was implemented previously against Section 377 of the Indian Constitution, which criminalized homosexuality. The Supreme Court later repealed the law thanks to the various protests and petitions filed across the country.

As the government continues to defend the bill, the public’s last hope is the Supreme Court, the only institution that can stop the implementation of CAA. On January 22, 2020, the Supreme Court did not issue a stay on the petitions filed against the bill and instead gave the central government four weeks to respond. This further angered the public and has continued to help the youth hold consistent protests all around the nation. However, as of March 5, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider petitions against the CAA after resolving matters pertaining to the Sabarimala issues.

The path taken by the protestors has proven to be effective in the past. The youth of India aim to strike down the CAA in court with the law on their side. Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India display the changing mindset of the country’s youth. These protests also promise hope to those ostracized by the government on the basis of religion. As religious tolerance is now a priority for the majority of India, unfair practices promoting inequality are bound to disappear in the near future. As for the present, the Supreme Court will decide whether CAA can be implemented in India within the next few months.

Mridula Divakar
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It is easy for many to take the internet for granted. Roaming around the city, chatting with friends and staying connected with family using mobile applications is possible only because of internet connectivity. One might argue that the internet comes as a luxury element post healthcare, energy, food, shelter and education. The Internet can help people with communication and decision making. For example, farmers can charge their yields at a reasonable price post referring to market prices on the internet. They can even predict weather and harvest accordingly. Money transfers from people across the city can occur instantaneously. This list never ends. Now the internet giant Facebook is teaming up with a company to provide free internet. Here is why Facebook added Reliance as a friend.

Why Facebook Wants to Provide Free Internet

Back in 2015, Facebook experimented with Free Basics for providing basic internet services to the rural population of the world. However, things did not go according to Facebook’s plan because of the regulatory conditions across telecom sectors in different parts of the world. It violated net neutrality laws. After public consultation, the Indian telecom regulator banned Free Basics. Since then Facebook has been eagerly waiting to do something about it.

There are more than 400 million WhatsApp users in India. Added to this fact, Facebook’s core platform has more Indian users than any other country. However, half of the Indian population is still offline. Facebook wants to target that new user-base.

Reliance’s Jio Initiative

Reliance’s Jio initiative succeeded in doing what Facebook was not able to do. It succeeded in providing mobile phones and the internet at a very low cost. It was able to do so because of the revenue generated from other divisions of the organization and the exorbitant loan that Reliance opted for. This move wiped out the telecom sector foundation in India. Competitors such as Vodafone Idea and Airtel lost millions of customers to the new Jio network.

Internet services and call services were provided by Reliance Jio at free of cost in 2016. This move forced competitors to charge less, which in turn, resulted in the internet revolution. Most of the poor population across India started using mobile phones and the internet. As of December 2019, more than 370 million people across India had subscribed to the Reliance network

How Facebook Added Reliance as a Friend

Facebook’s failure in the past to enter Indian markets with the Free Basics concept taught the company an important lesson. Starting from scratch will not work all the time. Acquiring an existing player was an easy choice at this point. Mark Zuckerberg was intelligent enough to detect Jio’s achievements. Added to this fact, the market capitalization of Reliance was down because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indian National Rupee was at all-time low-value trading around 76 INR for 1 USD. After recognizing these facts, Facebook acquired 10% of the stake in Reliance India Limited at $5.7 billion. Facebook can leverage Reliance’s data for targeted advertisements. It will realize a significant jump in advertisement revenues from the Indian region.

Benefits of Increased Internet Access

Education is not available to everyone. Fortunately, people from poor backgrounds can get access to quality education through the internet. Poor people can access online education sites like Unacademy, Coursera and edX at free of cost. Added to this fact, people search and apply for jobs mostly through the internet. All jobs are highly interconnected these days. Thus, the internet would certainly provide intangible benefits to the rural population.

Millions of people could come out of poverty because of free internet access. Economic growth, employment and productivity of a country will improve significantly because of the internet access provision. In fact, Internet connectivity can generate $6.7 trillion of the global economy and create new jobs. India is the second-largest market for internet connectivity ranked only below China. It has around 600 million internet users.

Moving Forward

Around 30 million local stores in India were not online yet. Reliance’s latest experiment JioMart is working towards enabling this dream. Local Kirana stores can connect to the entire Indian population through the internet. If WhatsApp pay is leveraged on this occasion, possibilities will become endless. Owing to all these facts, accepting Reliance’s friend request was a strategic move towards achieving Facebook’s dreams.

– NarasingaMoorthy V 

Photo: Flickr

demonetization in India
In 2016, India’s new government, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched an initiative that replaced all 500 and 1,000 rupee bills with the new 2,000 rupee bills. The initiative sought to eliminate illegal money, or “black money,” and prevent people from conducting illegal business deals. Unfortunately, the initiative also affected the poor the most. The replacement of bills brought on a massive disruption to the overall economy, especially due to the cash shortages experienced by many throughout the nation. Here are five ways demonetization in India has affected poor communities.

5 Ways Demonetization in India is Affecting the Poor

  1. Market vendors had to shut down their shops. Typically, market vendors farm on a daily basis and sell their production. The drop in customer traffic, however, forced the market vendors to shut down their shops. Since these laborers work without an official employment contract, they make up a part of an informal economy. As a result, without a regular flow of customers, it becomes hard for these people to survive. The majority of this informal economy depends upon cash transactions.
  2. The ban of the 500 and 1,000 rupee bills has tremendously affected migrant labor workers. Migrant labor workers are those who travel to find work every year. Similar to the informal economy, these laborers typically rely on cash transactions. Due to the fact that such cash transactions occur privately, without the interference of the banks, the demonetization policy makes it even more difficult for these migrant laborers who already travel far from home, leaving their families behind, in hope for a decent job.
  3. Demonetization has also negatively impacted small business owners who serve food on streets. Due to the fact that the citizens had only 50 days to exchange their notes, customer flow completed stopped for many businesses. Additionally, many of these small business owners could not afford to stand in the long lines outside of the banks. For a wealthy family, losing an income of a few days does not make a big difference. However, for the poor, losing the income of even two days has an impact. As a result, people began skipping meals to keep their businesses running.
  4. The low-income, working class people suffer from the new policy. Typically, working class people have basic jobs with fairly low wages. Due to the fact that there is a shortage of cash flow, many low-income workers are experiencing delayed salary payments. As a result, it becomes difficult to run households. This especially becomes a problem when there are children who are going to school with high fees, or if there is a wedding in the house. Additionally, young adults getting ready for college also faced difficulties, since their parents were unable to afford to pay high college tuition.
  5. Demonetization in India has also negatively affected daily-wage workers. Since the implementation of demonetization, daily-wage workers, such as maids and housekeepers, have found it increasingly difficult to manage their lives. Cash shortages makes it difficult for them to get paid on time, which leads to skipping meals or working twice as much but for low wages. It also becomes hard for these workers to buy basic necessities or even pay education fees for children. As a result of financial strain, some children might have to do small jobs in order to bring in more money.
While demonetization in India initially had a negative impact on the poor, this was caused mainly by the transition. The Modi government has described the policy as a “fight for the poor against the corrupt rich,” and the problems poor communities faced are alleviating now that the economy is rebounding. Despite the chaos demonetization created, Modi has high approval ratings in India. In the future, it is essential that the government put in place better protections for the poor when making such a significant change, to ensure Indians are not suffering.

– Krishna Panchal 
Photo: Flickr

housing conditions in India
Good quality, secure housing is one of the major end goals for many societies aiming to ease global poverty and ensure the provision of basic needs amongst economically backward groups. Out of the 7.8 billion of the world’s population, 150 million people are homeless and 1.6 billion lack adequate housing. In fact, India alone accounts for 1.8 million people of the world’s homeless. Data shows that 78 million people in the country do not meet their needs for decent housing. Furthermore, 52% of the country’s homeless live in urban areas, which emphasizes the severity of the problem. With 17% of the world’s slum dwellers living in India, the government revealed that the country’s slum population now exceeds the entire population of Britain. Here is some information about housing conditions in India.

Problems with Housing Conditions in India

For ages, the poorer communities in India heavily depended on mud or unburnt walls with bamboo or grass roof housing. However, these elements are not the most stable or safe building materials. According to the Population Research Bureau, nearly 110 million Indian households live in houses with mud floors and walls. This accounts for 72% of rural households. Mud walls are not the safest option in a tropical country like India, with monsoons stretching on for months. Bamboo and dried grass roofs pose a potential fire hazard, especially since most rural households depend on fire lanterns as a source of light and open fire stoves for cooking.

The Rise of Pucca Houses

Improving housing conditions of India’s economically backward citizens has long been high on the Indian Government’s priority list. Over the years, several governments, both state and central, have produced various housing schemes. These housing schemes aim to provide pucca houses for the poor. Pucca houses are stable houses comprising of materials such as burnt brick or cement.

Indira Awas Yojana began in 1996 and was one of the first major housing schemes with large-scale goals. The scheme aimed to provide pucca houses for people from lower castes like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also non-SC/STs below the poverty line. Renamed as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin, the scheme works on the objective of housing for all by 2022. The scheme provides a 25 square meter pucca house with basic amenities to all its beneficiaries. As of March 2020, the scheme sanctioned 14,159,830 houses to the country’s poor.

Private Organizations

Additionally, many private organizations play a major role in alleviating poor housing conditions of the economically backward sections in India. Habitat for Humanity’s ShelterTech Accelerator program is one such program that is providing aid to for-profit business model startups. It is also giving aid to entrepreneurs focusing on developing solutions that aid low-cost housing. The year-long program supports the selected startups by giving them access to a network of over 300 startup founders, equity-free grants and seed funds up to 7.5 million INR. Another company investing in low-cost homes for low-income households, Brick Eagle, detects the limits of how much government schemes can provide. The company aims to build houses that are priced at 5-10 lakh INR. This price makes the houses more accessible for the economically weaker sections of India.

A Better Future on the Horizon

Housing conditions in India are improving slowly, but surely. The percentage of pucca houses has risen from 55% in 2011 to 71% in 2016. Ultimately, it is safe to say that the efforts of the government and private organizations are paying off as the housing conditions slowly change for the better in India.

– Reshma Beesetty 
Photo: Flickr

India vs Pakistan: Not Just Common Enemies
A man from India and a man from Pakistan stood proudly together representing their nations at a T-20 Cricket World Cup game in 2012. This is significant, as, in the year 1947, after India became independent from the British Empire, the Muslim minorities in the nation felt that they were experiencing underrepresentation and demanded partition. As a result of their religious divisions, India and Pakistan divided into two sovereign nations. About 70 years later, their harsh differences continue to exist. It is important to note that despite their religious and lingual difference, their poverty rates are both high. In India, about 21.9% of people lived below the poverty line as of 2011. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, about 24.3% of people lived below the poverty line as of 2015.

Religious Divisions

The main reason behind India’s partition was its religious divisions. Due to the Hindu majority within the government, the Muslim minorities felt that the government policies would only benefit the Hindus. Moreover, they also felt that the government would misrepresent them. Muhammed Ali Jinnah, a Pakistani politician, led Pakistan and developed a Muslim majority nation, while Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, developed a Hindu majority of India. Religion became the foundation of the partition movement. Many still view it as the basis of the conflict between the two nations.

Consequently, about 15 million people suffered displacement, as the Muslims in India migrated towards the newly established Pakistan. Along with this, about 1 million and more people died due to religious conflicts. The political conflicts between the two nations had led many other citizens to suffer the consequences. As a result, many families lost important members, and some became homeless.

Poverty in India

While the two nations have often been enemies, they have a common issue of high poverty rates, with India at 21.9% in 2011 and 29.5% in 2015. The causes of the high rates of poverty are similar in both nations as well.

A common cause of poverty in both nations is hunger, unemployment and lack of education. In India, about 200 million people do not have access to decent food. In addition, the lack of employment with proper wages is difficult to access, since many Indian people live in small rural villages. UNICEF revealed that about 25% of children in India do not have access to education in India. In fact, often girls in India have to learn household jobs. Due to this unequal treatment of women, it is difficult for them to find jobs with a good wage.

Poverty in Pakistan

Pakistan has seen a similar trend to India. Typically, women and children find it really difficult to find access to food. Due to inflation, many resources are simply unaffordable.

In terms of employment, many Pakistani citizens live in rural areas. Consequently, they do not have access to proper jobs. Many who have jobs do not have proper wages. Moreover, about 90 million people lived on less than $2 a day in 2011. This makes poverty harder to overcome.

Inequality amongst women and young girls also increases poverty levels. Like India, women have to learn household tasks so that they have experience when they marry. Additionally, people often look down on women who work outside the house. Efforts to educate women have made a significant impact on this. Other influences on poverty include violence, ongoing conflicts with terrorist groups, malnutrition, infant mortality rates and child labor.

Solutions to Poverty in India

In India, the government is working to combat poverty in a variety of different ways. An initiative the government has launched to help decrease poverty is Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or Housing For All. It focuses on providing the poor with affordable housing. Additionally, the program tries to empower the women by mandatorily making them the owner or co-owner of the house. Another program that the government launched is the Atal Mission For Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation. This program focuses on improving infrastructure and developing a proper sewage network, along with better water supplies for urbanization. In addition, the nation gets support from international organizations such as the U.N.

Solutions to Poverty in Pakistan

Pakistan’s government is also working effectively to decrease poverty levels. A program that the Pakistani government launched to help combat poverty is known as the Benazir Income Support Program. It focuses on assisting the poor financially. The program is essentially a cash transfer program that forces on reducing poverty and elevating the status of marginalized and underprivileged communities. Additionally, Pakistan receives plenty of support from international organizations such as USAID and the World Bank.

India and Pakistan continue to have political conflicts between each other. Similar to the relationship between the United States and Russia, the two nations have competitive views towards each other. Despite their differences, they have similar issues internally, such as poverty. However, although the new nations have significantly high levels of poverty, they have decreased the rates. Within a period of 10 years, 2006 to 2016, India lifted about 271 million people out of poverty. Pakistan significantly lowered its poverty rates as well and now has the second-lowest headcount poverty rate in South Asia. As urbanization continues in both countries, reductions in poverty are occurring, although at a slow rate.

Krishna Panchal
Photo: Flickr

Technovation Empowers Kids to Fight Global Poverty
Technovation is a global tech education nonprofit dedicated to empowering underrepresented groups by giving them the opportunity to create, lead and problem solve. The organization does this through its programs called Technovation Girls and Technovation Families that allow children and families to solve problems within their own communities through technology and innovation. Through these programs, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty.

Technovation Families

The organization’s family program collaborates with schools, mentors and families to work on creative artificial intelligence projects. These projects address real-world issues in their communities. The program is open to everyone and is completely free to children and families. Since 2006, more than 80,000 families around the world have participated in the program’s design challenges.

Technovation Families includes 10 lessons that teach families how to solve a problem in their community using artificial intelligence (AI). At the end of the lessons, families have the opportunity to submit their idea to the AI World Championship. The program encourages the collaboration of children and their families to change the world through technology.

Technovation Girls

Along with its family program, Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through Technovation Girls. The program works with girls ages 10-18, influencing them to become leaders and entrepreneurs within the tech industry. Through volunteer mentorships, girls in the program form teams and create mobile apps that address issues in their communities. These apps have helped tackle issues such as domestic violence and climate change.

Technovation Girls has empowered over 130,000 girls, children and parents to improve their communities through coding and artificial intelligence. Since the organization’s start, 7,000 mobile apps and AI prototypes have emerged and over 14,000 mentors have supported underrepresented populations. Apps such as FD-Detector, Eedo and Handsout have significantly impacted local communities.

FD-Detector

In 2018, Team Save-A-Soul, a group of five teenage girls from Nigeria, won the Technovation Challenge with their app, FD-Detector, which can detect counterfeit medicine. Before working with Technovation, the teens had a limited amount of knowledge on technology. However, through mentorship and education, they were able to make their innovative app come to life. The app helps customers and health care workers verify a drug’s authenticity and expiration date, which could mean life or death for a patient. In Nigeria, the sale of counterfeit drugs is a widespread issue. Team Save-A-Soul is raising awareness for counterfeit drugs and protecting people from harm.

Eedo

Another 2018 winner in the senior division was Team Cantavits, with its app Eedo. Eedo is an app that reduces electronic waste in India by connecting e-waste producers to authorized recyclers. Electronic waste can have damaging effects on the environment. By providing a resource for waste management and highlighting the harmful effects it can have on the environment, Team Cantavits has positively impacted its community.

Handsout

Brain Squad, another team from Nigeria, created an app called Handsout that helps more children go to school. The app, winning the 2019 People’s Choice award at the Technovation competition, gives people from all over the world the opportunity to donate to Nigerian children and their families. The donations cover school fees, supplies and medication.

Technovation empowers kids to fight global poverty through innovation and creativity. Its programs not only combat global poverty through the apps and technology it has created but through the cultivation of learning and collaboration to create a better future for impoverished populations.

Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

Pets in Poverty
The numbers of medical supplies and resources are always falling short in impoverished nations. With an exceedingly high demand for hospital necessities such as surgical tools, disinfectants, bandages and more, these necessities often overshadow the needs of proper health care for pets. Governments in developing countries often do not have enough resources to allocate the necessary funds to help keep pets healthy and safe. Many local administrations will often resort to inhumane methods to control the large population of roaming animals, such as shooting, poisoning or drowning. Therefore, many animal rescue organizations provide the necessary means and tools to aid these pets in poverty. Here are three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty.

3 Animal Rescue Organizations Helping Pets in Poverty

  1. SPCA International: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is one of the leading nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the world. One of the most important programs SPCA International is working on is the spay and neuter procedures for animals in developing countries. Spaying and neutering are important for the quality of life for pets in poverty because many owners often abandon or give away any pets that have a chance of reproducing in fear of financial burden or neglect. SPCA International supports local organizations in countries with limited resources by providing cash grants through its Shelter Support Fund and veterinary tools through its Veterinary Supply Aid program. Additionally, it provides information and awareness about the ethics and importance of spaying and neutering. Local organizations, in turn, take the resources that the SPCA International provides to set up free or low-cost clinics and campaigns so that people can access the necessary health care for their pets. These low-cost campaigns are incredibly important for pets in poverty because there are little to no veterinary clinics able to provide accessible and cost-efficient health care in many regions. By supporting these spay and neuter campaigns, SPCA International continues to strive to reduce suffering and death for millions of animals.
  2. Animal Aid Unlimited: Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) emerged in India in 2002. Its goal is to rescue and treat animals that people find on the street and are in need of medical attention. The organization runs an animal rescue center in India that doubles as a hospital and sanctuary for street animals. It found worldwide popularity by connecting its rescues and treatments through social media. AAU has more than 5.39 million subscribers on YouTube. The organization documents its rescues and medical treatment operations in short videos that often start out with anguishing undertones but end with a happy and healthy pet. The organization helps heal many of the pets in poverty left on India’s streets to die and shares the positivity online through its growing YouTube channel. AAU connects with and inspires the global community in its current efforts to help abandoned animals on the streets.
  3. Humane Society International: The Humane Society International (HSI) provides the necessary medical supplies and education for local governments in developing countries to enact humane ways of controlling growing animal populations. The organization works with local advocates in creating charities to battle against the inhumane shootings of unowned animals in the streets. With the support of HSI, local charities such as the Homeless Animals Protection Society in Ethiopia were able to emerge and thrive. These local charities receive the support to provide free or low-cost spay and neuter programs, as well as vaccination initiatives to combat deaths that rabies caused. The majority of deaths due to rabies occur in developing nations, and the vaccination equipment and education that HSI provides save thousands of people and animals each year.

While there are challenges getting health care to pets in developing nations, these three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty are truly making a difference. Through their continued efforts, pets should continue to receive the support they need.

Aria Ma
Photo: Pixabay