A little over eight years ago, in the largest east coast city of the United States of America, 189 individuals gathered at an exclusive venue to ponder over the state of affairs prevalent in the world at the time. The 189 distinguished individuals put their heads together and devised a plan to improve the quality of life on planet earth, to make the world a better place to live in for every human being lucky enough to have been born.
As the three-day summit drew to an end on September 8, 2000, people in every country of the world felt that they could hope for a brighter future in light of the pledge made by the 189 state heads, through the Millennium Development Goals, to improve lives for the global community, particularly through the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger from the world.
Even after more than eight years from the conclusion of the landmark Millennium Summit, one in every five people, over 1.2 billion people, are living in conditions of extreme poverty, barely managing to survive at less than a dollar a day, while half the people in the world live on less than two dollars a day. These people live in such deplorable conditions, that their efforts to continue living are often thwarted by the human need to feed, causing approximately 25,000 people to die from malnutrition and hunger every day.
As more and more people continue to fall beneath the poverty line, particularly those living in Africa and developing countries in Asia, not only does the economic growth of these countries come to a standstill, but deterioration on the social front also takes place, with a worsening law and order situation than is already existent, increasing crime rate, inspired by the necessity to fulfill basic requirements, and a drastically falling standard of living, due to the discarding of all morals and code of ethics in light of these extreme circumstances.
With a person dying every three and a half seconds, the nations of the world turn have turned a deaf ear to the deplorable living conditions of the poverty-stricken global populace, and choose to rather concentrate on their own political self-interests by spending enormous chunks of their budgets on defense, war-making capabilities and waging wars. The conscience of not just a single person, but the entire global community must be woken up, to make it realize the importance of upholding and fulfilling the pledges made, rather than simply performing academic exercises.
The roots of poverty do not exist in urban centers, but do so in the rural areas which receive the bare minimum coverage as far as researches and poverty-alleviation programs are concerned. With less than seven years left to fulfill the pledge made by world leaders, the global community needs to come together in order to collaborate their efforts, towards the eradication of the abomination of poverty from the world once and for all. The flame of hope for the poverty-stricken masses of the world, particularly of developing countries, needs to be rekindled on the grounds of respect for humanity and decency towards the human race. For how long shall we continue to treat the poor as filth, unworthy of any rights?
Aitzaz Rehman Sheikh