Re-published with permission by Stanford Social Innovation Review. Visit the original article.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Growing up in Calcutta in the Indian state of West Bengal, I witnessed firsthand the many layers of truth behind Gandhi’s words. For beyond the obvious physical consequences of living in want, therae lurks a constant and pervasive threat to human dignity, social bonds, and basic aspirations. In the India of my youth, this violence was by design. Here was a nation with unlimited potential in both human capital and natural resources continuing to lag behind because of the bureaucratically stifling nature of its command-and-control economy. Opposition political parties in the 1970s and 1980s were mired in ideological dogmas of one kind or another and offered few realistic alternatives.