Asset 1

Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Wretched of the earth
By: Syed Rashid Munir

The accident of birth more often than not decides whether your toddler’s
hands will nurse the gleaming pages of a pre-school textbook or be
scorched by the forbidding fires of the brick furnace

Living is a terribly difficult occupation. The truth of the matter is
that you start dying the moment you are born. If your parents can afford
to protect you against fatal diseases, you can hope to survive long
enough to achieve adulthood where there await multiple hardships,
challenges and traumas that have to be braved with a valiant face. Once
you are past your prime and venture over into old age, life seems to
take a numinous quality of its own. At that stage, all you can really
aspire towards is crossing over without enduring too much pain. 
In
such a way, the business of life takes its toll. Consequently, we invent
exotic escapes, spend money on the latest products and try to make our
short stay on this planet pleasurable. No wonder we have evolved into
insatiable consumers, hell bent on the acquisition of the tangible, with
absolute disregard for the (seemingly) intangible impact on future
generations. So far in our inquiry though, we have assumed that you can
consume and strive to seek the pleasures on offer. But, as the next few
paragraphs will show, the vocation of life is complicated boundlessly
when you add poverty and inequality to the mix. 
Like many developing
countries, the official poverty line in Pakistan is calorie and
consumption based, and a final headcount is calculated after converting
the household consumption level based on the recommended nutritional
requirements of 2,350 calories per person, per day. According to a
recent Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) report, as many
as 58.7 million people live in poverty in Pakistan. If that number is
not appalling enough, then take this into consideration: if you raise
the minimum wage from its current level of $ 1.25 to a hypothetical two
dollars (around Rs 200), as a World Bank study did, then a colossal
60.19 percent of the total populace still falls below the poverty line.
Unsurprisingly, the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa grapple with the vilest forms of this menace.
Revealing
though these numbers might be, they still do not come close to depicting
the true nature of the issue. As Haris Gazdar has shown in his essay
“Poverty in Pakistan” in Fifty Years of Pakistan’s Economy, these
consumption/nutrition/income based poverty measures cannot truly
illustrate the increasingly complex landscape of poverty in Pakistan.
Under the traditional rubric, some crucial forms of poverty remain
hidden. A more constructive way would be to define poverty as all
conditions that restrict equal and unhindered participation in the
economic, social and political life of the community. For instance, even
though an individual might have a sufficiently high level of income,
illiteracy might prevent that individual from equally partaking in
society. Similarly, societies rife with gender inequality might become
home to capricious forms of segregation, even after elements like
individual income, consumption and education have been taken into
account. Such forms of poverty translate directly into rising
inequality. 
But if that were all, we could at least begin to address
the issue. Sadly though, there is more. The alarming issue is not
inequality itself but inequality of opportunities. Pakistan has a higher
incidence of poverty compared to other regional countries but the
Pakistani variant of poverty is also deeply structural. So not only do
we have more poor people, they are, furthermore, beached in poverty with
absolutely no chances of escape. What this means, at the risk of
sounding clichéd, is that the poor remain poor over generations.
Unfortunately, in countries like Pakistan, the accident of birth more
often than not decides whether your toddler’s hands will nurse the
gleaming pages of a pre-school textbook or be scorched by the forbidding
fires of the brick furnace.
To counter such hindrances, numerous
methods have been put into practice by the Pakistani state, with varying
levels of success. From the Sasti Roti (cheap bread) Scheme
(subsidising flour consumption), Benazir Income Support Programme (cash
hand-outs to the poor) and the Green Taxi (employment for the literate)
Scheme, it seems that we have seen everything under the sun. So far, the
only aspect common in such endeavours is that they all neglect the root
causes and instead try to ameliorate the symptoms. Likewise, higher
taxation for the rich has also been tried and shunned almost instantly
once the political ramifications were made all too evident. 
But it
is not equality in terms of wealth we need, but rather the equality of
opportunity. Putting the same amount of money in everybody’s pocket is
an unsustainable and even undesirable solution, and some argue that to
do so would be the end of all competition and human effort. However,
promoting equal opportunities for all is easier said than done. One
barrier policymakers have run into is how to go about removing subtler
hurdles, as is evident in the case of dismal educational performance by
some students from poor backgrounds, due to issues such as identity and
comfort level, despite them being awarded tuition waivers and
scholarships.
An added facet of the debate is that the poor are more
noticeable everywhere. Stop at a traffic light in your luxury sedan and
you encounter beggars. Go for a shopping spree in high-end malls and you
are bound to come across the needy and the poor. And, no matter which
city you live in, you will find the lush villas almost always
neighboured by slum-dwellers. However, such is the level of apathy
towards the poor that we either choose to ignore them completely, or
else just tuck them away neatly into the outskirts of our ever-expanding
metropolises. 
It is no surprise that our society is now more
fragmented than ever. Economic inequality directly transforms into
social and political marginalisation that leaves no hope for any
improvement in the predicament poor Pakistanis find themselves in. I
will stay clear of prescribing any solutions, since there are much more
qualified personnel than me to resolve this hydra-headed problem.
However, if we are to ever overcome this debilitating obstacle, we as a
nation will have to develop a consensus on how much space we are willing
to give to the disadvantaged within our midst.

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Oct-2014/wretched-of-the-earth

This article was originally published at:

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.