India’s explosive economic development in the last few decades has been lauded by many as a miracle. Nowhere else in history has a state been able to sustain economic modernisation within a democracy racked with such high levels of poverty. Nonetheless, the accusation that this ‘miracle’ has left millions behind is irrefutable. As of November 2016, India is the second-most unequal society in the world; the richest 1% of the population own 58.4% of the wealth. Only Russia has a higher concentration of wealth among the top 1%.
One of the most striking manifestations of this is child poverty. Of the 385 million children living in extreme poverty (living off $1.90 or less a day) globally, the World Bank estimates that 30% live in India. The scale of the problem might render even the biggest optimist hopeless.
This is not the case with Save A Child, whose fantastic work has already helped thousands of children who otherwise would not have been supported – they currently sponsor hundreds more across its four homes. During my cycle trip, I will have the privilege to see firsthand the wonderful work done by Save A Child, a charity which offers a second chance to children (often orphans, many with physical disabilities like blindness), nurturing them through education and giving them a future.
I will cycle through some of the poorest areas of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. It is with astonishment and shame that Western travellers to the Subcontinent, myself included, regularly remark how wealth and poverty coexists so closely in India, and on my route, I will undoubtedly encounter the extremes of both.
I hope to raise awareness of this small, but powerful, charity, and to be part of the generation that does not accept the alarming inequalities of wealth that our world currently faces. By asking you to donate to Save A Child, I am asking you to join me in this endeavour. No matter how small the amount, together we will make lasting change.