Today I’ve been doing some work for a Ukrainian client, which involved me having to research per capita GDP of CIS countries, compared to UK, France, China, and India. Obviously it was interesting (hey, I love statistics… maybe too much; I can tell you how much a quintal of fresh coriander costs in India – highest, lowest, and average costs!), and it was pretty eye-opening too.
Latest statistics from the World Bank* put India’s per capita GDP at $3,627, while for the the UK, it’s $35,657. At first glance, this may not seem much of a revelation – India is a far poorer country than the UK but with a much higher population, right?
Well yes and no. Y’see, those figures are for International Dollars**, which take into account PPP (purchasing power parity)***. The direct currency conversion rate looks even more alarming… with not much difference to the UK figure but a ‘loss’ of over 50% for India.
But everything is cheaper in India, isn’t it? Actually, no. Sure, some things cost far less than they do in the UK, and even within India itself, there is a bit of cost diversity across the states (just like in the UK); however, in working out our food bills here, and then comparing them to average market prices in the UK, I am genuinely astonished to discover that there is very little difference in overall food cost.
That’s not to say there is no difference; the biggest is of course, in fresh produce, herbs, spices, and because we live right on the coast, fish and seafood (the Arabian Sea is quite literally, a five minute walk from our apartment). However, packaged goods such as rice, lentils, split peas, butter, coconut milk (mad when you consider we are inundated with coconut trees here), cooking oil, sugar, etc. are actually cheaper in the UK. And I am not even talking about Western products which are imported, and therefore incredibly expensive – we don’t even have that many here in Fort Kochi – I’m talking about foods which are grown here!
So bearing in mind the above; far less money to go around, and comparatively expensive food, it’s easy to understand why so many people in India do indeed Live Below The Line.
There is not a day goes by when my heart is not broken by the sight of people begging in the street; sometimes they are crippled, maimed, or malformed, or are the victims of frankly, awful skin diseases… but sometimes they are simply old. Too old to work. Too old to support themselves.
It’s not fair that anyone should have to exist like that – especially not when lots of us are in a position to help, and when such things could actually be prevented.
And the worst of it is that India is far from the only country in such need. I’ve seen it first-hand in Cambodia, in Laos, and in Morocco.
Yet this is just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg – an iceberg which is made of over a billion human beings in desperate need of help.
If you, and every person you know, donated just one pound, or one dollar, think how much good it could do. Think how many lives could not only be changed for the better but could actually be saved. If you were starving, needed medical attention, or needed water, wouldn’t you hope that people who could afford to help, would?
What if it was your child? Or your parents? Or your grandparents? Or your sibling? Or a friend? Or a neighbour? You would do everything you could to help, wouldn’t you? I know I would. There is no difference in helping a neighbour across the sea to helping one in the same street. Because we are all neighbours, no matter how many miles or continents separate us; we all share this beautiful planet, and we should all be looking out for each other. Together we really can do amazing things!
People need people – so few of us are able to thrive by ourselves. A pound or a dollar won’t buy much in the West but for each of those 1.4 billion people Living Below The Line, it really could mean the difference between life and death.
What will you do to help?
Thank you for reading… now please, click on the first link above, and help me raise money for UNICEF!