Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Widening Disparities between the Rich and Poor

A recent report by Tolo news highlighted the widening gap between the rich and poor in Afghanistan and how that influences the poor, some among whom do not have anything else to do but collect garbage and suffer in various ways so as to earn their livelihoods. The report highlighted that though the international community granted around $63 billion for non-military purposes over the past 15 years to Afghanistan, 39 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, with some of them having the most difficult ways of living. The so-called development in the country seems to have been skewed and it has favored only some people who have accumulated wealth that can be sufficient for their several generations. On the other hand there are many others who have been suffering for many generations.  
The widening gap between the rich and the poor or the class disparities can be best observed in capital Kabul. There are some tall, luxurious and magnificently built houses with visibly all the facilities of life while on the other hand there are houses that cannot be termed houses in the true sense of the word. Many of them are nothing more than tents that cannot guard the people against the severe weather conditions. Then there are many people who live without houses. They have to spend their nights along or under the different bridges in the city.
These disparities between the rich and poor are affecting the society as a whole. Though the stratification into rich and poor classes existed in Afghan society earlier as well, but it has changed its primitive shape; even in the urban regions the stratification is more like modern upper class and lower class division.
Some argue that this stratification of the society in different classes is a necessity. They believe that it is because of interaction of various strata that the society tends to function as whole. However, this argument is quiet debatable. Actually the class based setup in a society is mostly the outcome of the practice of Capitalism. Capitalism, at least in theory, tends to follow justice and demands that everyone should be gifted according to his ability. Thus people with more ability can have as much as they deserve lawfully. Further, the system of Capitalism also allows the individuals to have lawful private property.
This system seems to be working for most of the developed and developing countries. In fact, if this system has been working for so many countries, there are few pre-requisites that are maintained to a varying extent by these countries that have been helping the system to develop instead of facing a failure.
First, it has been made sure that justice should be maintained in its true spirit, i.e. it must not favor only the upper class; rather the upper class itself should be treated by the law and order system in the same way as the other two classes; namely, lower, middle and upper classes.
To put it in simpler terms it can be said that social stratification has not been changed to social injustice. Second, social mobility has been made very easy in such societies. Social mobility basically means movement from one social class to another.
For example, it has not been very difficult for a person taking birth in a lower class to work hard, develop the capability and move to the middle and even to upper class. There have been equal opportunities for almost all the members of the societies to excel in their lives and become rich. Social mobility has been able to provide some oxygen for the social setup to inhale so that it must keep on living.
It is also vital to note that in Afghanistan the wealth has poured in without much accountability and weak check and balance system, therefore, the stratification has led to sufferings. The upper class in Afghanistan cannot be said to be in the form as it exists in an industrialized society.
Rather, it includes the landlords, tribal heads and religious leaders. Both political and economic systems tend to revolve around these people who are in total control of entire wealth and its distribution. Further, it is also true that all these people do not seem to have the ability for what they are gifted.
They in pursuit of their own benefits have only made the opportunity of development favor themselves. The poor people of Afghanistan, who have been badly stricken by decades of wars, have only suffered the worst manifestations of poverty.
There are millions who do not have the basic requirements of life and are compelled to live their lives in the remotest areas, without much support and attention. Food, cloth, shelter and other requirements like education and security are non-existent for them.
And at the same time there are people who own properties worth millions of dollars. These are all the results of an intense stratification. The poor do not seem to be having many opportunities of improvements in their lives and that means that social mobility, which can provide oxygen to a stratified society does not exist, while the social injustice is on the rise. The law and order system, instead of treating everyone alike, has served as the slave of the upper-class. The current scenario if goes unchecked can bring further misery to Afghan society.