10 Facts About Social Change
Social change is an instance in which people reform the conventions of society. The behavior and attitudes of people determine the direction and significance of change, while the environment or society influence these behaviors. Here are 10 facts about social change.

10 Facts About Social Change

  1. Modernization and Technology: Social change is a combination of many factors. Different events, technologies or people can affect the behavior or norms within society. Modernization and technology have been two of the largest driving forces of social change throughout history. The Industrial Revolution in many countries forced governments to become more liberal as their citizenry became more valuable and leveraged for more rights at work.
  2. Social Order and Coordination: Social norms are central in social order or social coordination. Social norms are informal laws that dictate a group’s or society’s behaviors. A social norm can range from wearing a suit to work or holding the door for someone behind you to voting in the presidential election. Social change does not occur without a significant number of people coming together and changing the traditional behavior within a society.
  3. Social Justice: Social change often looks to change social norms that negatively affect social justice. Social justice is the idea that every aspect of society can achieve justice and equity rather than in only certain cases or for some individuals.
  4. Causes of Social Change: There are different types of social changes. Since social changes are whenever a group changes social behavior and consciousness, many factors can cause such an outcome. War, protests, strikes and nonviolent demonstrations are all ways social change comes about.
  5. Negative Social Change: Social change is not always a positive form of change. An extreme example is the Nazi regime and its persecution of the Jewish population that occurred because of a change to Germany’s social norms. It is up to people to choose which form of change is worth pursuing.
  6. Length of Time to Instigate Social Change: Often change takes place over many generations. The breaking down of social norms requires time to turn new ideas from fringe to conventional. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are prominent social figures. These men exemplify the multiple generation struggle, as all of them inherited a society in need of change and utilized the time to achieve social justice.
  7. Importance of Nonprofits: Nonprofits are vital in social change. Nonprofits are often the driver of awareness, bringing solutions to communities affected by a lack of progress. Groups like Oxfam International strive to uplift the poverty-stricken and decrease poverty around the world. By working in more than 90 countries, the organization has affected millions of people. The group looks to provide clean water and food to those without such necessities and diminish the effects of climate change in developing countries. In many of its efforts, it also looks to increase the economic well-being of developing countries to ensure their citizens are provided with enough resources to live and flourish.
  8. Theories About Social Change: Sociologists and anthropologists have studied social change and social norms extensively. These significant studies have led to many different theories of the causes and reasons for social change. Many see Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as the most influential sociological thinkers, each offering differing theories on the progression of society. All three focused on the division of labor and how that affected social progress. Durkheim argued that with an increase in population, there is more competition for resources. To obtain social harmony as opposed to constant competition, people will look to specialize their skills and find new ways to make a living. Marx also analyzed the division of labor and the effect of work on people and society. Marx, however, believed that people often look to meet their human needs, and are in a constant struggle with the market or their owners of production to obtain financial security to live. Marx believed that life was a constant struggle between classes and that social change emerges from this struggle. While Marx believed that class solidarity would lead to social change, Weber believed that society required a charismatic leader to spark such change. Weber emphasized a transition to rational thought, and because rationality usually comes with collaboration, Weber believed bureaucracy would be essential to change.
  9. Difficulty to Instigate Social Change: Traditions are often difficult to change and violence is a common response to social movements. People in power often do not want to relinquish their power and the traditional system often provides the parameters and rules for those people to rise to that position. As a result, they see a change to the system as a threat to their status. What started as peaceful protests against an extradition bill has turned into months of clashes between protestors in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists began protesting in March 2019 against a bill that would extradite citizens of Hong Kong to Beijing. Activists saw this bill as an encroachment on their autonomy and held demonstrations to voice their opposition. After multiple peaceful demonstrations, police responded with force against protestors, and this use of force caused protestors to increase the intensity of their protests. Since the beginning of these protests, there have been constant clashes between protestors and police, including batons, rubber bullets, tear gas and even the shooting of multiple protestors with live rounds. Protestors have attacked businesses and police. Awareness and pressure are powerful deterrents to violence on both sides.
  10. Nonprofits for Peaceful Change: There are groups all around the world working for peaceful change. The Borgen Project is just one among many groups that look to uplift the impoverished and oppressed peoples of the world. Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote public health around the world. Bill and his wife Melinda look to provide millions around the world with resources and education to live healthily. The Foundation strives to reduce inequities in healthy by providing resources and education to countries with insufficient health care programs.

These 10 facts about social change show that change is constant within society and that with the level of technological advancement, the rate of societal change will only increase. With so many groups working for social justice and their ability to reach more people with their message, the time is right for societies around the world to become more inclusive. Inspired by social justice figures of the past, there has been an emphasis recently on the peaceful pursuit of social change. The number of groups striving for social justice around the world encourages people to live without conflict, without injustice or prejudice and to receive the necessary resources to live a healthy, fulfilling life. With technology as a spark for social change and the technological advances of today, there is the possibility of creating a world where uplifting those in need, even in different countries, is the norm.

– Jared Hynes
Photo: Flickr

Social Justice Helps to Fight Social ChallengesAccording to the Pachamama Alliance, social justice is defined as “equal access to wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.” Social challenges are defined as “an issue that relates to society’s perception of people’s personal lives. Different societies have different perceptions and what may be “normal” behavior in one society may be a significant social issue in another society.”

After defining terms, now the question raised must be addressed: how can social justice helps to fight social challenges? Social justice can help to fight social challenges by providing society with equal opportunities to overcome its problems.

Social justice and education

For instance, poverty is considered a social challenge because it relates to how society views people’s lives. One way to help reduce poverty is to provide greater and more equal education opportunities since many find themselves living in poverty due to a lack of education. From the years of 2002 to 2007, about 40 million more children around the world were able to attend school, due largely in part to the lowering of costs and the increase in investment. Programs like these are examples of social justice and the impact it can have on addressing social problems like global poverty.

Social justice and access to clean water

Another factor that influences poverty rates is a lack of access to clean potable water and nutritious foods. Although having access to these resources is a basic human right, many people around the world do not have access to clean water and food. To be more specific, according to The Water Project one in nine people worldwide do not have access to clean and safe drinking water, as a result, people find themselves without the ability to “grow food, build housing, stay healthy, stay in school, and keep a job.” By implementing programs such as building wells in rural communities and bringing access to potable water within a half-mile of villages across the globe, social justice in the form of providing people with equal access to privileges within a society, the social challenge of global poverty is being addressed.

Social justice and job development

Another important aspect is the economy and how job development can help to eradicate poverty. In China, 700 million people have been raised out of poverty due to several different programs being put in place by the government, one of which is its focus on the creation of jobs and the economic development of rural areas. Additionally, by providing underdeveloped areas with officers to regulate the poverty-alleviation programs, Chinese citizens were able to rise up out of the inhumane living conditions they were surviving in.  Through the government’s efforts in the job and economic development, China’s poor population has been given the same opportunities to achieve wealth and change their situation, which just goes to show that social justice can make a difference in how social challenges are addressed.

In conclusion, in terms of how social justice can help to fight social challenges, one could say that through the implementation of programs that offer the same opportunities to the underprivileged, social justice helps to fight social issues like global poverty.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

MIT's J-PAL LabOn a busy street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an unassuming brick building houses the North American headquarters of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Inside MIT’s J-PAL Lab, researchers analyze the results of randomly-designed experiments and the generalizability of their findings. Their test subjects? Social programs.

J-PAL and its Research

Anti-poverty work can take many forms: vocational training, credit access, education and the list goes on. Programs of various types can be valuable and worth funding, but because donors and organizations have limited amounts of funding, the relevant question is often not whether to support anti-poverty work, but how to support it. What programs are making the biggest difference? Where will a donation do the most good?

J-PAL co-founder Abhijit Banerjee puts it best in an interview with The Wire: “you have to basically focus on: where is the lever? That’s what we do, try to help find the lever, and then if you push the lever you go fast. But what [policy-makers] do is often… just hit everything and then some things hit the lever, some things hit the wall.” The strategy of “hitting anything” is certainly not useless, but to maximize impact, a person should concentrate on the mechanisms that maximize impact. J-PAL’s work is in locating the policy levers that will make a difference and encouraging policy-makers to use them.

MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan founded J-PAL in 2003 and it has grown quickly. As of 2019, J-PAL has a network of 181 affiliated professors around the world. A truly global organization, J-PAL has offices in Capetown, South Africa; Paris, France; Santiago, Chile; New Delhi, India; and Jakarta, India. J-PAL’s work focuses on researching the results of different cases of anti-poverty action to evaluate what is most effective and advise policymakers accordingly, and educating people about how and when to evaluate social programs.

J-PAL’s Approach

At its base, J-PAL’s approach is simple. Any case of policy-making has results, and by tracking actions and results in a large number of cases, one can determine which are successful and which are not, and therefore which to support in order to produce a maximum impact. Using this data, one can also attempt to predict the policies whose results could potentially be reproduced elsewhere. J-PAL’s methods also emphasize focusing on the mechanisms behind policies and not on specific details of a single scenario. Particular details vary from case to case, but human behavior does show certain patterns; in similar circumstances, policies that have worked before can work again.

J-PAL and its affiliated professors have performed over 900 evaluations and have developed a selection of case studies and other teaching resources to educate people about the analysis of social programs. Every year, J-PAL runs Evaluating Social Programs, a five-day course for policymakers, researchers and nonprofit workers that covers the basics of organizing scientifically sound evaluations and interpreting their results. Close to 50 people attended the 2018 course, which took place at MIT. J-PAL has also made the content of the course available online for free through the online education platform edX, allowing people around the globe to learn from J-PAL’s work. The case studies discussed in the course are also available on J-PAL’s website.

Moving Forward

MIT’s J-PAL Lab has encouraged the scaling up of policies ranging from remedial education in India, deworming in Kenya and community block grants in Indonesia. It also continues to study policy and advocate for effective social policies. The training that it provides for policy-makers allows them to maximize their impact in an economically efficient way. As J-PAL continues to grow, its affiliates will continue to find those levers.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Flickr

Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

As the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela put persistent effort in dismantling the apartheid that divided the nation for 46 years. His peaceful protests against the racist legislation of the South African government exemplified legendary courage and leadership. These Nelson Mandela quotes on love reflect that through social activism and philanthropy, a passion for the betterment of humankind can change the world.

Nelson Mandela continuously inspires liberation movements across the world. His prison sentence of 27 years for the political offense of organizing and supporting the anti-apartheid movement lives on as a principle of a true hero. After being released from prison, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then in 1994, he became the nation’s first democratically elected President. Inspiration for any oppressed group of people can be found in Mandela’s quotes about love for others and love of justice.

Ten Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

  1. “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
  2. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
  3. “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”
  4. “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
  5. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
  6. “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
  8. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
  9. “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
  10. “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

These Nelson Mandela quotes on love depict the ways in which he witnessed the world, and sought to change it. With love for oneself, others and one’s country, anything is possible.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Captain Planet
Age is never a barrier in the fight for social justice. At least, Captain Planet teaches this lesson. During the animated series’ six-year span, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” sought to educate and empower young people to take an interest in environmental issues.

Origin

Media mongrel, Ted Turner, conceived of the idea for Captain Planet. To bring this superhero to life, Turner sought the help of longtime environmentalist and film producer, Barbara Pyle. Inspired by people she met during past projects, Pyle created the Planeteers: Kwame, Gi, Linka, Wheeler and Ma-Ti. Together, the Planeteers and Captain Planet work to combat ecological and global problems.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” premiered worldwide in 1990 and the children’s animated series gained popular success as well as critical acclaim. Captain Planet was one of the first television shows to openly advocate for the environment. Apart from addressing environmental issues, the television show also encouraged young people to have an interest in the issues plaguing their own communities. Here are two examples of how Captain Planet challenged its audience to be advocates for nonenvironmental social justice issues.

Issue #1: HIV/AIDS Epidemic

In the early 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated the United States. The number of reported cases was over 100,000 and it affected everyone in sight. Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the deadly virus. Doctors diagnosed White with AIDS when he was 13 years old after he received a blood transfusion. After this diagnosis, White’s school banned him and his community ostracized him, similar to other individuals. People were afraid of White due to the misperception that AIDS could transmit by air or touch.

During the middle of the epidemic, Captain Planet addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS in its episode, “A Formula for Hate.” The episode challenged the audience to put aside ignorance and fear to reduce discrimination against people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The plot of the episode parallels White’s situation after his diagnosis with AIDS. In the episode, the townspeople learn about a student’s (Todd Andrews) HIV-positive diagnosis. The townspeople turn against Andrews and his family, going as far as burning his mother’s vegetable stand. Captain Planet and the Planeteers intervene by educating the townspeople on the virus, dispelling the misperception that HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. As a result, Andrews and his family were once again accepted by the townspeople and no longer discriminated against.

Issue #2: Gang Violence

Gangs and firearm violence were on the rise in the United States during the 1990s, especially among young people. In 1990, the number of fatal and nonfatal violent crimes with a firearm was at an all-time high at 18,253. In 1993, 45 cities reported that over 100,000 young people were involved in a gang. The rise in violent crimes created toxic environments among youth and places considered safe zones for young people, like parks and schools, became battlegrounds.

In 1994, Captain Planet addressed the issue of gang and gun violence in the episode, “Teers in the ‘Hood.” The episode’s plot revolved around a shootout between two rival gangs and The Planeteers became caught in the middle of the conflict. Captain Planet and the Planeteers defused the situation by talking about the peace messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi. The episode also debunked the myth that gangs offer positive communities for its members. After two of the Planeteers infiltrated one of the rival gangs, the gang quickly pressured them to use violence in order to gain acceptance. In short, the episode’s message was on the power of positive community and peace.

Today, Captain Planet continues providing fun, innovative opportunities to support environmental issues worldwide. To get involved or learn more, visit www.captain planet foundation.org.

– Paola Nunez
Photo: Flickr

Schools for Sierra LeoneSierra Leone is a country with an abundant amount of natural resources located on the West Coast of Africa. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone endured a civil war that had detrimental effects on the country’s physical, social and economic infrastructure. After the civil war, Sierra Leone made significant progress in almost all sectors. Unfortunately, its education sector is still facing challenges. Organizations such as SOS Children’s’ Villages International and Schools for Salone, with the support of the Government of Sierra Leone, have stepped in to help better Sierra Leone’s education sector.

School Attendance Rates

Since the civil war, Sierra Leone has made great efforts in rebuilding destroyed, abandoned and damaged schools, but most schools are still in need of repairs. Furthermore, many schools lack sufficient learning materials or qualified teachers. However, Sierra Leone has seen an impressive percentage increase in primary school enrollment. Nearly 100 percent of both boys and girls attend primary school. There is only a 2 percent difference between boys and girls completing their education, boys at 69 percent, and girls at 67.

Although primary school attendance rates have continued to increase, school dropout rates for both boys and girls is an alarming concern. When it comes to secondary school, the numbers drop to 57 percent of both boys and girls attend lower secondary school. Unfortunately, that number drops even further to 29 percent for boys and 26 percent for girls when it comes to enrolling in upper secondary school. There is a 53 percent drop out rate of both boys and girls. There is even a bigger disparity in attendance rates and completion rates for both girls and boys in rural areas of Sierra Leone because of the lack of access to schooling.

Since 60 percent of people in Sierra Leone live under the poverty line, it makes it difficult for many households to afford school for their children. It was reported, in the 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, that 35 percent of households don’t enroll their children in school due to lack of funds and about 28 percent don’t have a functioning school in their village or community. Building more schools for Sierra Leone, especially in rural areas, is important and vital for the future of the people and the country.

Organizations Making a Change

SOS Children’s Villages provides various programs to make sure that children have access to quality education and training to prepare them to become independent adults. Some of the things the programs have created and supported are improving child-centered quality education, creating inclusive learning environments, working with communities and authorities to build schools as well as providing speech therapy and after-school tutoring, mentoring and coaching for the youth. SOS Children’s Villages also runs the schools that it has established and built in order to ensure quality education. About 3,000 students have benefited from the organizations’ schools and programs in Sierra Leone.

In 2005, Schools for Salone began its mission to provide quality education to the people of Sierra Leone. Since 2005, the organization has built 22 primary school buildings and three school libraries. These facilities serve more than 6,500 children across Sierra Leone. Schools for Salone has also provided training opportunities for more than 150 teachers. Its main missions are to build schools, keep boys and girls in school and provide scholarship opportunities for the children of Sierra Leone.

The civil war in Sierra Leone had many repercussions and has affected all of the country’s sectors; however, it is most apparent in its education sector. Organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages and Schools for Salone have decided to help improve the education sector of the country. More schools for Sierra Leone could mean a brighter future for the country’s education sector, but more importantly, a brighter future for the children of Sierra Leone.

Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

Similarities and Differences Between a Charity, Non-profit Organization and Philanthropy
To get a better understanding of the different ways in which one can contribute to the community, it’s important to know the similarities and differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

A large part of progress in the world is due to humanitarian aid and contribution, whether it be people donating money or food to the less fortunate or people coming together to work for and promote human welfare. Charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy are important to communities because each is effective in bringing positive change and offers valuable opportunities and programs to people.

Giving USA reports that charitable donations surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, a major increase of 5.2 percent from $389.64 in 2016. This is the first time that Giving exceeded $400 billion in one year.

While charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy can be used interchangeably and are similar in that each brings positive change, they differ significantly in the way they operate.

Charities

A charity is an immediate but emotional monetary donation or short-term contribution usually intended for crisis and relief efforts and supported completely by the public.

People usually donate to a charity that they have a personal connection to or are emotionally affected by. For instance, if a person is deeply concerned about animals, he or she may give a monetary donation at a local animal shelter.

According to Score, one of the ways to understand the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is to remember that a nonprofit’s purpose is educational or religious and if its funds promote a cause that affects the general public and uses public solicitation to operate, it is most likely a charity.

Examples of donations to a charity include giving money or food to a homeless shelter, donating to an animal shelter, giving money to The Salvation Army bell-ringers outside one’s local supermarket during the holiday season, etc.

Nonprofit Organizations

A nonprofit organization and a charity are similar in that they both operate on a not-for-profit basis but differ based on whether it is tax-deductible and even in the way it operates. A charitable donation can count as tax-deductible while nonprofit organizations have to meet certain requirements and file with the IRS as a charitable organization.

A popular nationwide nonprofit organization is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross website states that a donor’s donation goes toward strengthening the Red Cross response to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, providing a safe place, food and other necessities to affected individuals and their families. In 2016, the Red Cross provided 385,000 emergency assistance services, gave millions CPR and AED training and supplied 7 million blood products to patients in need.

Philanthropy

One way to remember the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is by understanding that charities and nonprofits give/contribute while philanthropy involves action. For instance, while a charity can be a quick one-time donation to a school, philanthropy would work toward providing academic scholarships to students or funding to build a better school. Charities aim to lessen the suffering caused by social problems while philanthropists work toward ending social problems.

According to Medium, philanthropy is a long-term strategic investment and intervention dedicated to building long-lasting and successful change in individuals and communities.

While many think a philanthropist is someone who donates large amounts of money to an organization, a philanthropist can be somebody devoted to ending a certain social problem and promoting human welfare.

Impact and Importance

Although there are several differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy, the important part is that all of these are effective in building a more efficient and progressive world. It doesn’t matter if someone donates to charities or nonprofit organizations or decides to become a philanthropist, what matters is their contribution serves to help those in need and is also another step toward progress.

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

 

Private Sector Fighting Poverty
When it comes to global poverty, the solution should involve collective effort from different organizations and individuals as well. These involve various participants from volunteers and nonprofit organizations to the government or even celebrities who are contributing their time to raise public awareness and much more. In fact, even private sector fighting poverty via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is crucial too.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Many large businesses and corporations are doing their bit for the world. Examples of private sector fighting poverty are not only motivational but also help to eliminate the sources of and causes leading to global poverty. Each year, different companies take action to do what is necessary for their community. The concept was introduced in the 1800s when the U.S. Supreme Court stated that corporations are people and they should be good citizens.

There are several ways for companies to practice Corporate Social Responsibility. Environmental efforts, volunteering, ethical labor practices and philanthropy are some of the examples. The private sector fighting poverty is reflected in many of the world’s biggest and most profitable businesses. CSR has become so critical that, for example, in the U.S., more than 60 percent of citizens hope that business will drive social and environmental changes in the absence of government actions and regulations.

Private Sector Fighting Poverty

Print giant, Xerox, has been focusing on different social areas with many projects, but it’s most recognizable one is the Xerox Community Involvement Program. Through this program, Xerox encourages its employees to work on social projects of their choice. They can also get a paid leave of absence to focus on their respective projects.

Another company that has been running several projects for the social good is the shoe company, Toms. Their well-known project One for One Campaign came into existence after the company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie, witnessed the difficult life of Argentinian children who grow up without wearing shoes. The idea of the project is really simple: Toms provides shoes to the children in need in 60 countries as it donates one pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold.

Microsoft is another company taking responsibility for social issues. According to Forbes, the company holds the second highest rating on CSR score for all their educational and environmental contributions worldwide. It’s also known that the company’s co-founder and former CEO, Bill Gates, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to combat infectious diseases, promote equality, empower the poor and much more.

How CSR Benefits the Private Sector

Numerous big giants such as the BMW Group, Google, Samsung, LEGO Group, The Walt Disney Company, etc., have been taking action. Many of these companies benefit from their CSR as well. For example, Google Green is a social effort geared toward using resources effectively and increasing the use of renewable power. Ever since this cultural change occurred, Google’s data centers’ power requirements have reduced by about 50 percent. This means that what is saved by a social project can now be used for other operations.

Fighting global poverty and its causes needs to be a collective effort and the involvement of the private sector is highly crucial.

– Orçun Doğmazer

Photo: Flickr


India is the world’s second-most populated country with 1.3 billion people, and is ahead of the United States — the third highest population — by nearly 1 billion people. When comparing the populations of the two countries, it is easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an overcrowded, poverty-stricken country.

While true that India has a high population and a large percentage of the nation lives off of incomes considered below the world poverty line, there is also financial and social growth leading to improved conditions in India.

It is also easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an environmentally unfriendly country: many cities in India suffer from problems of air and water pollution. However, India is instituting new policies to combat those issues and to improve the quality of the environment.

Economic Progress

Even though 68 percent of India’s population lives in poverty according to World Bank standards, the poverty level has declined since 2004. Further, India has one of the world’s fastest growing economies — growth of India’s GDP is expected to be 7 percent in fiscal year 2018, and increase to 7.4 percent by fiscal year 2020.

India also has a growing international business market that will increase industries and jobs. For example, solar panel manufacturing is becoming an important market and there are multi-billion-dollar investments being made to further expand and produce panels for both domestic and exportation purposes.

Social Progress

In recent years, India has improved in its quality of life measurements in addition to moving up from the low social progress category. This shift means that measured standards indicate that India is meeting an increasing number of basic human needs for all its people. One large factor in that advancement was progress made in providing shelter; 67 percent of the population now has access to affordable housing.

India also increased general access to information and communication. The numbers of both internet and phone users increased since 2014, allowing people to connect and obtain information more easily.

Environmental Progress

The smog in India’s capital, New Delhi, is infamously thick; however, solutions to the pollution exist that are less readily portrayed by the media. One such solution is an air purifier that can be used indoors to help clean the air, and bigger policy initiatives to help tackle the root of the pollution problems are also being pushed by the government.

India is trying to eliminate its manufacturing of gas-running engines by 2030 and turn toward electric vehicles to remove one source of pollution. Along with other policy measures, and investments in cleaning polluted air and water, India aims to alleviate its problems of environmental degradation.

How the Media Misrepresents India

How the media misrepresents India is through its focus on big picture negatives rather than on the positive growth of the country. All the separate instances of progress add together and help to create a more sustainable future for the people of India.

With monetary and policy support, further strides can be made in the media’s notation and highlighting of the resilience of India.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

social justice and economic justice
There is an enduring and powerful relationship between social justice and economic justice. Social justice has many definitions. 
The most common definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.”

The definitions that are most applicable to alleviating poverty, however, are:

  • The idea that every person should have equal rights to basic liberties and needs, and inequalities should be arranged to the greatest benefit for those considered lowest in society.
  • From the Huffington Post: “…promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exists when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights and a fair allocation of community resources.”

However, the current functioning of global society violates each of these definitions almost completely, and therefore expresses the lack of and need for social justice in all areas of the world, especially developing nations.

The United Nations Development Programme reports shocking statistics from poverty elimination research, detailing that as of 2000, there were 323 million people living on less than $1 a day, 185 million people who were undernourished and 273 million people without access to improved water sources in sub-Saharan Africa, the most impoverished region overall.

These harrowing numbers from sub-Saharan Africa were accompanied by information stating that 44 million primary age children were not in school, 23 million primary age girls were not in school, five million children under five years old were dying each year and 299 million people were without access to adequate sanitation. These statistics demonstrate that simple economic failure and injustice is not an isolated issue, but rather closely parallelled by social failure and injustice as well.

In contrast, the statistics from central and eastern Europe are staggeringly different. Only 21 million people were living on less than on $1 a day, only 33 million people were undernourished, only 29 million people were without access to improved water sources, only three million primary age children were not in school, only one million primary age girls were not in school, less than a million children under five years old were dying each year and an insignificant amount of people were without access to adequate sanitation as of 2000, so low that it was not even reported numerically.

As can be clearly seen, there is a direct correlation between social justice and economic justice, and a very large gap between developed nations and impoverished countries. The more economically impoverished a nation remains, the more social injustice thrives and prevails. The greater the poverty, the fewer people are given fair and equal access to basic needs and rights.  

To start fighting such global, national and statistical chasms and deprivations, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have started targeting social justice, specifically to help achieve the goals of:

  • Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  • Promoting gender equality and empowering women
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability

The hope is that the new information and educational awareness of the relationship between social justice and economic justice will kickstart the alleviation of poverty by focusing on the social injustices in each region and developing country to foster a new approach for decreasing poverty overall.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Wikimedia Commons