Prevent Jamaica from sinking into abject Poverty

Author - Ramesh Sujanani
Author – Ramesh Sujanani

The agile old man walking barefoot with his stick in 1943, looked at the slums of filth and garbage, and saw the young men standing idly by; one of them looked at him cautiously with defiance. The old man turned to his pastor-companion and pointing said: “Poverty is the worst form of violence”.  And the Mahatma continued the journey on foot to the eastern shores of his country, realizing that after the oppressors left, poverty would soon be his next challenge.

In 1994 the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Kevin Carter was in Sudan, near a UN food camp, and saw an event that made him feel sick and disgusted. A small child, a girl, was crawling to the camp, some 200 metres away,  and following her, waiting for her demise, stalked a vulture  similar to our ‘John Crow”, the final arbiter of death. He took a photograph which brought this abject poverty of Africa to the western press. (And won him the Pulitzer Prize for photography.)

In the summer of 2013, Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh proposed to implement action which cost his Government$28 billion dollars every year. The action was to make available to India’s poor, produce of grain including wheat, corn, rice, and maize, this simply for food security.

Yet the issue of food and hunger is not enough and a new collective thrust is needed.  This priority should anchor the post-2015 Development Agenda of the UN, which should be shaped by the member states so that it enjoys the broadest possible support, and is accepted by all countries which are at the edge of poverty and hunger.


It is unthinkable that at this time, and level of development, that people may die of hunger.

Resolving poverty is the key in creating order, and redeeming many other affiliated social ills.

prevent Jamaica from widespread hunger
Vulture Stalking a Starving Girl in Sudan – Photo: Kevin Carter

Dr. Singh (PM of India) said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30th, remarked:  (abridged) “‘The problem of one billion poor persons around  the world need to be attacked more directly.  Issues of peace, security, and governance, including climate change, are important and we need to address them because economic growth alone will not help our 2015 development agenda.

More attention is  needed  to address the matter of food security and its related problems, nutrition, education, water and discrimination against women: the latter because they are becoming more important to the labour force, and are learning new skills.”

President John F. Kennedy remarked once in Irish Parliament “”Many persons see the problem, and ask why? We need men who dream of solutions, and ask why not?”

 Jamaica to-day probably is not as poor as some Countries in Africa, or the rural villages in India, but why should it go to that extent? The pressure from the poor has intensified, and we need solutions; perhaps to empower more women, if that is the problem, as soon as possible. Each day prices and taxes corrupt the meagre pay of workers in Jamaica, to the point that hunger and malnutrition are slowly eroding our population, and I wonder at what price we have to say to the ministers in Government, and the advisers at the IMF, this is too much. “Please Stop”.

The increase in minimum age is around 10% and our inflation this year is likely to be around 20%. The level of minimum wage (US 55.00) minus the basic contributions, equals to the minimum wage, so that minimum wage need to be addressed by a further 40% at least to realize a fair net wage.


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