Lack of will or lack of resources : the myth of niche skills

We have been trying to get resources for our slum computer center. A computer cost close to 30K. A UPS costs about 5K. We have been getting used and new computers easily. However we are requesting donations for the UPS. Looks like if there is a government initative there will be whole lot of computers in every corner in bangalore.

The other day I was discussing the slum computer center with a colleague. I asked her why children in slums dont have decent basic education and computers while some kids grow up with computers and holidays in france and london ...

She looked at me as if I was a moron. Come on then you will say that everyone should have what 'Tata' has or what the CEO's have ( private jets and flights). The folks in slums dont have niche skills. Software engineers, tatas and others have these niche skills, hence they can afford computers.

Skills are many times valued in terms of economics ....there are many skills which the local economic market might not value but nevertheless be very important. A rose is a rose whatever economic value you fix to it.

At various times the economic value of things change, many times due to demand and supply. However the intrinsic value of thing might not change. Water is an example. It was not so costly as it is now. Hence slum folks have many skills but they are not considered ecnonomically valuable but can become valuable in a particular point in time.

However economic value many times is so low becuase of what is called exploitation. Exploitation is cheating . Not giving the economic value which should be given.

This surplus value out of appropriation is used by some one else. Local market economic value itself hence may not denote reality. Economic value is linked to branding , positioning , marketing and the capactiy to hire . Also linked to how much capital you already have. Also the way speculation happens in real estate and shares is an example of how bogus the concept of economic value is.

The same skills of house maids carpenters and electricians if born in a developed country is good enough to get descent health care and education . Its important to understand the role of labour movements in getting value to these skills in those countries.

However if the social system or government or people can intervene costs can be moderated. Demand and supply ratios can be adjusted. This is called the welfare system.

Health care is very costly in the u.s - not so in some european countries. The price of food grains and software engineers is not the same across the world. the same grain has different value in different places ..

Its purely not skill, demand and supply. it also has to do with the policy of the government. Yes its a combination of all this . Skills matter, technology matters, demand supply matter. However its thought as only skill, demand
, supply ignoring the other factors behind.

Hence when we talk about welfare and development of a society at large it cant be linked to purely economic value in a narrow sphere as it doesnt enable develoment of a socitey but stiffles it. though we have resources we will disable lot of people. cause malnutrition, allow preventable deaths, have a lot of drop outs and so on..Look at the loss of human dignity in slums. The lack of water and sanitation. The horrible living conditions . if you have the resources better use it if it can be humaising. Its stupid to waste resources...

Coming back to the UPS and computers . The other aspect is there are so many software enigneers having more than one computer in blr. Most of them have a computer and a lap top. Also the other reason is how the way good hardware becomes outdated..becuase of the bottom line game......on how software and hardware need to
be growing and outdated once in 2 years......actually false economic value...something like tender coconut water and cocal cola . where coca cola has a higer economic value than colured soda water . The situation between devloped countries vs developing countries is also simillar ...that of software engineer vs slum dweller.
Especially the salaries . Because people draw slaries with huge difference almost a difference in the ratio of 1:4 to 1:10 and more at times.

The problem is that no one is willing to give equal oppurtunity...we as our country our cutting down the investment into public education. cutting investment in public health care. yes bureaucracy/efficiency is a big problem with public system. alienation of community is a problem. that doesnt mean privatisation is a solution. making efficient public systems is the alternatives (Amul - Gujrarat Dairy cooperative, IIT, REC etc)

Hence we need people with the will ( both in the economically devloped and developing world) : a heart and interest in socitey to get these skills to a larger number of people and then mera barath will be really be mahan..

the slum computer center is a small effort in those lines. but we can only talk and campaign about ecomic equality now.

One thing is clear. We definitely cant have a mahan barath with such economic disparity.