Originally posted for The Borgen Project
When you look at the Taj Mahal in India, what do you think about? You will most likely picture grandeur, masterful masonry and the powerful aura that comes with viewing one of Seven Wonders of the World. What is perhaps more striking then, is the discrepancy between the mystique of the Taj Mahal and the dilapidated buildings across the marsh, easily viewable from the monument. The divide is an intriguing microcosm of India, where it is not uncommon to see beautiful temples adjacent to downtrodden shacks and underdeveloped housing. The divide is stark, the inequality is evident and found in developing countries worldwide. It represents borders of poverty.
As humans, we create borders by association, carrying with them many lines of distinction. Some of these lines are defined by soveriengty, economy, culture and policy. In this article by Nick Galasso from OxFam America, he relates these borders of poverty to the differences between poverty reduction and economic growth. With the effects of globalization and free trade agreements, he finds that poverty is reduced along some areas and economic gains are reflected. However, another side effect is the development of exclusive classes made up of a new upper class with high income earners, while leaving the near poor potentially falling below the poverty threshold again, leaving borders of poverty and wealth in plain sight like this picture of Sao Paulo (Paradise City), Brazil.
It is difficult to pinpoint the precise issues that create such dichotomies, but it is enough to recognize that they do exist. It is important to register the significance of these borders that reflect the changes occurring in our globalizing world, both positive and negative. Borders like these are far more telling than simply rich and poor, whether it is the U.S.-Mexican border or the Berlin Wall. Border of poverty found in these pictures of the Taj Mahal and Paradise City remind us that while the fight to reduce poverty has had some success, there is plenty of ground yet to cover. With continued effort, these borders will change and reduce, hopefully like poverty itself.