If we look carefully at our world, we find that where there is unfair
distribution of resources, there is unrest. When people cannot enjoy the fruits
of their labours fairly, when they are forced off their land and homestead and
forest, we have the basis of an unjust society. Where there is violence and
conflict, we invariably find poverty. And where there is poverty, we find anger
and acute struggles for justice and equity. And, we see Governments resorting
to repression for ensuring ‘law and order’.
I have often stated that Poverty is violence. This violence is by consensus of
society that lets other human beings go without roti and kapada and makan.
Poverty is not God given. It is a moral collapse of our society. Poverty strips a
person of his or her humanity, and takes away freedom. Poverty is day-to-day
violence, no less destructive than war. Poverty is lack of peace and freedom. In
fact, removing poverty is essentially building peace. I know I am not saying
anything new. Garibi Hatao to me also meant, indeed, Shanti Banao. Garibi
Hatao is a peace song.
And where do we start? I have faith in women. Women have shown, if we care
to observe, that disarmament in the end is not a treaty by two nations to
render arms useless, though such a treaty is much needed in this world. In my
experience, and I have seen within India and in other countries, women are
the key to rebuilding a community. Why? Focus on women, and you will find
an ally who wants a stable community. She wants roots for her family. You get
a worker, a provider, a caretaker, an educator, a networker, a forger of bonds.
I consider thousands of poor working women’s participation and
representation an integral part of the peace and development process.
Women bring constructive, creative and sustainable solutions to the table.
Also, in my experience, productive work is the thread that weaves a society
together. When you have work, you have an incentive to maintain a stable
society. You can not only see the future, but you can plan for the future. You
can build assets, and invest in the next generation. Life is no longer just about
survival. Work builds peace, because work gives people roots as well as allows
them to flower; it builds communities and it gives meaning and dignity to
one’s life. Work restores man’s relationships with himself, with fellow human
beings, with the earth and the environment and with the great spirit that
created us all.