Poverty is just a state of mind, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was quoted as having said at a function organised by the Dalit Resource Centre (DRC) at the Gobind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute (GBPSSI) here on Monday. However,as a controversy erupted over his remark,the DRC on Tuesday claimed his statement had been misrepresented.
While the media was not invited to the event,the DRC issued a press release in the evening. Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean scarcity of food,money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence then we can overcome poverty. These words were spoken by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the one-day discourse, said the release.
According to the release,Rahul recounted how the self-confidence of a woman in Amethi increased after she joined a self-help group through the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana,a Rae Bareli-based civil rights organisation. Unless and until the voice of the marginalised come out from within,nothing can be done, Rahul was quoted as saying.
But on Tuesday,the DRC issued a clarification saying that Rahuls statement had been misrepresented. It is unfortunate that Rahul Gandhis statement on poverty was misrepresented as poverty being merely a state of mind. Instead,what he said was that poverty comprises two elements: poverty of thought (garibi soch main hai) and poverty in material conditions,the latter manifesting in food,money,education and so on, it said.
Referring to the experiences of women SHGs,he said that poverty of thought has to be overcome so as to achieve self-confidence to raise ones voice,leading to politics of ones own and a share in democracy and its institutions, it added.
It is not that he meant that there was no link between poverty and material things like scarcity of food or money. What he meant was that,apart from this,there was another aspect too the one which exists in the mind. He said that unless the marginalised come together and raise their voice and fight for their share in democracy,they would never get represented, said DRC project director Prof Badri Narayan,under whose name the press release was issued yesterday.
Narayan added that Mondays statement was prepared by people who were taking their own notes. It was more a case of misreporting, he said.
GBPSSI director Pradeep Bhargava,who also participated in the event,said: The whole thing needs to be taken in proper perspective. He gave the example of SHGs to emphasise how poor people can gain in confidence through their own initiatives. Unless they do that,they can never become a force in the democratic set-up.
The DRC is a part of GBPSSI,which is a constituent institute of the Allahabad University.