SAAPE Poverty Report 2016 was jointly launched by Government College University Economics Department, Labour Education Foundation, Simorgh and SAAPE Pakistan on 21 September 2017 at Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan.
Chief Guest Professor Dr. Padma Pd. Khatiwada introduced the report and explained how neo-liberal agenda has played havoc with the lives of most South Asian people. He said that at a moment when market is projected and glorified as the emancipator of all miseries, SAAPE Poverty Report is of the view that market glorification has multiplied peoples’ misery in South Asia, paved the way for feudal and fundamentalist forces to grow and the corporate sector to loot the common resources in the region.Dr. Khatiweada said that while launching its fifth Poverty Report in Lahore, SAAPE has been publishing the triennial South Asia Poverty Report since 2003, and questioned the existing development paradigm.
Farooq Tariq, the lead editor of the report said that while South Asia houses 22 per cent of the world’s population, the region, however has only 1.3% of the world’s income. The idea that market will correct imbalances through demand and supply has led to the gradual withdrawal of state from publicly providing services like education and health. Depleting investment and state support has resulted in a crisis in agriculture, compromising food security and farmer’s livelihood. Growing informalisation of labour added on to the misery of the people.
Kaiser Bangali defended the pro people development through nationalisation under Bhutto in Pakistan. He said that it is myth created by World Bank sponsored economists that nationalisation was a failure, Commenting on the report, he said the report lacks anger, the poverty report must generate anger against the corrupt system.The state is the space for political negotiation for people, especially the poor and marginalised. The marginalised groups turn to the state for rights and security- for example, women’s movements in south Asia, a repressive state really closes this space for negotiation on the inevitability of returning to the state for problems of development.
Dr Rubina Sahgal raised issues of poverty and feminisation. She said women are the worst effect starta of society under the clutches of neo liberal economic agenda.
Karamat Ali, director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) raised the issue of expanding poverty line among the south Asian countries and its impact on working class. He said that today is marked as global day of peace, yet the ruling elite if the two countries, Pakistan and India spends nearly 65 Billion Dollars a year on militarisation. He said that the report also highlights the rising military expenditure of the state with a proportionate dismantling of social security system. The argument is that unless a 10 per cent annual reduction in defence expenditure is not made by the governments, social protection of the masses will become impossible.
Dr Faisal Bari criticised the growing trend of privatisation of education and loot and plunder of private educational institutions. He demanded that state must ensure free quality education at all level for all citizens.