Poverty Reduction And Shared Prosperity

 Sustainable development does not merely imply to the economic growth but is composed of peace, healthy and dignified human life, human capital development, proper social safety net and environmental sustainability. Economic growth along with proper education, better health status, social cohesion, fair distribution of public goods and services to each and every person, environment friendly economic activities etc contribute to the sustainable development thereby decreasing the disparity and increasing prosperity.

Extreme poverty remains a serious challenge in many countries around the world. Reduction of the poverty in simple, means the satisfaction of basic needs of people at minimum in case of absolute poverty where the optimum in consideration of relative poverty. If we analyze the trend of addressing the issues of poverty reduction during 1970s, two schools of thoughts emerged. ILO recommended employment creation and active redistribution of the resources to face the challenge of development while, the version of development agency led by the World Bank opinioned for the provision of basic need through the interdependence. Clash of collectivist principle by ILO and individualism emphasized by development agencies since the early days are the philosophical challenges in the human development discourse these days to be mitigated.

Till date, several solutions are being suggested to combat with the challenge of poverty reduction where macroeconomic stability, structural reforms, social sector development, promotion of human development index, social inclusion, good governance etc. can be quickly reviewed. For poverty reduction in real term, it is very important to break the vicious circle of poverty so that those overcoming from the poverty trap insured from falling in to vulnerability at any uneven situation. Some of the tools which can end up the vicious circle of poverty are:

  • 1. Quality Education

Quality education empowers a person with the knowledge and life skills. Education for all has been the primary focus all around the world. But, the primary question we need to be aware is on how quality education for worker’s children can be guaranteed. The worker means the worker from the informal sector too who have difficulty to earn their livelihood. Within such economic deprivation, costly education remains for from the dream of working poor. To mitigate this challenge Trade Union movement should focus on qualitative public education. Qualitative education should be ensured in public school where there is no hierarchy based on class and everyone has access to it ensuring shared prosperity.

  • 2. Access to Health Care

This remains other essential parameters for poverty reduction. A good health in itself is a great resource for a person. It is very important for everyone to get the opportunity to build good health including well nutritious food, good medical facilities etc. Hence, state should provision for the qualitative public health system which can benefit the poor working class.

  • 3. Economic Security and Livelihood Promotion

Economic security helps to overcome poverty by helping communities. Trade Unions need to put on the effort for the skill upgrade of the unskilled and semi-skilled workers to ensure higher pay. Besides , the awareness program on food security, livelihood security , sanitation , modernized agriculture can value add in livelihood promotion. The trade union should concentrate its effort for the decent living wage for all the working people to ensure the decent living. The economic security should be governed by the job security of the workers.

  • 4. Social Security

It is the prominent means of protecting people from the poverty trap either from the loss of job or the major type of illness or economic inflation or any other cause of vulnerability like cyclic, structural, conflict driven or natural calamities etc. Social security is the right of all workers. Trade union should strongly advocate for the social safety nets for all the workers irrespective of hierarchy, job category (formal and informal). For the effective social security implementation, the gender pay gap should be seriously addressed, because the gender gap in employment results in the larger gap in social security status after retirement.

The international human right instruments, ILO conventions on right to work, equality in terms of pay, benefits, working condition and social security aims to seek to foster income growth for all. Improvement in the shared prosperity indicator requires growth to be inclusive. In general, if the poor people are excluded from development benefits remain always poor is the area where trade unions should have to pay greater attention for the shared prosperity in real term.

Prosperity can be broad based if growth generates jobs and economic opportunities for all. The pattern of growth should generate income opportunities for the poor. There should be a healthy and stable social contract in every country that commits to investment to improve and equalize opportunities for all citizens. Hence, the trade union can act progressively for universal access to early childhood development, health, nutrition, education and basic infrastructure to the working class. For women it would be in many societies all about overcoming barriers to their participation in economic, social and political life. The world bank report has confirmed that poverty reduction is higher when growth is biased towards labour intensive sectors and is diversified such that it generates employment opportunities across the multiple sectors . The redistribution of resources in social contract should ensure the investment in people, to promote growth and equity over time and across generations. The social contract for promoting equity and growth should aim to create an opportunity society where the human and productive potential of every individual regardless of gender, religion , ethnicity or parental background is maximized . It should as well act for the gender equality.

’Poverty Reduction and Shared Prosperity’ a paraphrase came in intense public and academic discussion after proclamation of World Bank on 2013 with its promise of reducing global poverty to 3 percent by 2030 and foster income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population in each country where ‘Shared Prosperity’ is response to the growing inequality which extremely criticized since last decade. UN ‘Sustainable Development Agenda’ has further reinforced this phrase, with its affirmation of Agenda 2030 as the agenda of Shared Prosperity.

Goal of the shared prosperity basically focuses on the economic growth and equity. The equity in real terms of the political participation, access upon the state’s resources and in general all the democratic right of a citizen in the society and at work only can ensure the shared prosperity. Hence, shared prosperity cannot be limited only in terms of economic growth but is the synonyms of guaranteed overall democratic practice for all in wider prospect. Increasing the living standard of 40% lower strata of population with respect of consumption level a promise of shared prosperity also seems basically concentrated on economic growth either way; where main essence of shared prosperity of reducing inequality is at stake.

After this proclaim World Bank and IMF as the predominant institution to engineer the development discourse especially since last 50 years has started series of studies on this regards. Probably for the first time these institution are coming to realization of probable stagnation in economic growth due to shrinking aggregate demand caused with limiting dispersion of income as the result of weakening Trade Union movement and eroding collective bargaining process.

Thus notation of ‘Shared Prosperity’ not only reflects the promise but it also reflects the shift in paradigm on thinking and understanding which opens the door to the labour movement to claim its greater importance and role to promote social wellbeing. Shared Prosperity asserts change in paradigm from:

  • “Inequality as the incentive for growth” to “Fair distribution of income for sustainable Growth’,
  • “Growth only for the poverty reduction” to “Essentiality of proper distribution of share of growth to overcome the challenge of absolute as well as relative poverty.
  • “Trade Union as the barrier of economic growth” to “Instrumental for growth, social justice and peace”

This shift in paradigm not only justifies the role of trade unions in society but also establishes its responsibility in the endeavor of sustainable development seeking its assertive action to achieve the goal.

Whenever and wherever there is change in paradigm primarily is due to prominent role of the intellectuals and academicians. Though need of this change in paradigm is realized in socio economic arena but is still in very infancy seeking regular academic reinforcement. In this regard, the trade union movement which has always been identified as the activist movement needs to develop a network of academicians whose voice are heard by these organization as well. This would eventually enrich the trade unionism and be enhance the shared prosperity.

Promotion of Collective Bargaining and social dialogue to increase the share of growth to working people and establish workplace democracy, promoting living standards through living wage, decrease the income gap between the different categories of work, intense lobby and pressure for enlarging public investments in education and health to ensure greatest level of human capital and advocacy on Green growth to tackle national and global challenges of natural resource depletion, ecosystem degradation, and climate change should be further intensified by the Trade Union movement at local as well international / global level to make the notion of shared prosperity really ensure social justice and socio economic equity.     

25 October 2021
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