How to close the gap between the Rich and the Poor?

ince gaining its independence in 1968, Mauritius has come a long way during these past 46 years. One big step towards addressing the inequality problem has been free education at secondary level granted in 1977. This was extended to tertiary education in 1988. The efforts to sort out the inequality issue did not stop there and went on in 2005 to also include free bus transport and more recently free contribution to SC and HSC exams.  
Unfortunately this “fairy tale” stopped there as quality jobs rarely reach the lower rung of our societies, hence leaving little opportunities for our youngsters from poor families to have access to these jobs. Unfortunately, good opportunities all too often circulate only among the privileged.
But sadly, observations suggest that the on-going trend of the well-off taking most of the good jobs is likely to continue.
In other words, income earned by the parents can hinder or hasten children’s abilities to climb the society ladder. Birth, or what is also called the “lottery by birth” and therefore not merit, is in many cases the main determinant of life’s chance.
The sad part is the fact that pretty much every key area, be it in the Private sector like Finance, Media, Business or the Public sector, are run by those who could “afford” it.  The lack of opportunities for people from the lower income groups to move up also reflects elitism in the same way as the lower “casts” are deprived of the opportunity to prosper.
Rich people are born to live, Poor people are born to work, ONLY people who realise this as false are born to achieve!
The danger that we may face, if not handled urgently, can lead to what we have witnessed in Tunisia , when on 18th December 2010, when Basboosa, who was unemployed and turned into a street vendor to support his family, out of despair, committed self-immolation, when his wares was confiscated. This led to what we now know as the “Printemps Arabe”, the uprising that swept the Arab world.
In fact, we have lost sight of the latent problem that is being created. We need to have the guts to face this reality then only can these challenges be solved. Finding ways to absorb all our qualified young people who enter the job market each year is not an easy task and has led to an increase of inequality across different classes in our society. With the current level of job seekers exceeding demand, we have a tendency to put disproportional emphasis on skills and work experience, rather than on what truly counts such as the candidates’ behaviour, work ethics or abilities to fit into a company’s culture. Such common recruitment practice tends to favour those people from wealthy families. These families often have strong connections with prominent employers, making it more likely for their children to be placed there. In short, the current employment practices give applicants from wealthy backgrounds some distinct advantages.
This income inequality is playing an ever-greater role in shaping the destinies of children all around the world. Statistics show that rich and poor kids are on increasingly opposite tracks, a universal condition with serious implications for our future.
Many studies show that one’s chances for success as an adult, largely depend on the acquisition of certain intellectual and interpersonal skills in early childhood – skills that are more difficult to obtain in conditions of economic hardship. As inequality prolongs the distance between rungs on the class ladder, helping poor families understand and cultivate these skills early in a child’s life becomes essential to allow people from poor background obtain these “reserved” jobs.
Power corrupts because it can be used to obtain unfair advantage. One way to address this is by going transparent, such as publishing advertisements for new positions with reasonable job requirements so as not to have “tailor made job description to fit, already pre- selected candidates”.
Achieving job equality is an urgent issue that must be taken seriously. It's not just our young people who lose out if they cannot find work--society as a whole will suffer tremendously, our future is at stake. Unfortunately, we may either face a brain drain with many young graduates choosing to work abroad for countries seeking talented individuals to fuel their development or else sooner or later face a revolution due to an accumulation of grievances and frustration, as they will have had enough of the inequalities and “injustice” prevailing in our society.
Some of the potential solution would be to inculcate in the mind of our children and youngsters that they have the potential to climb the social ladder with effort, determination and ambition. Our youngsters have to believe “when there is a will there is always a way”. The government set the tone by recently awarding 24 additional scholarships based on academic merit and social criteria and which are somehow in line with the recommendations stated above by publishing the selection criteria so as to make this exercise transparent and thus showing more transparency and fairness. This exercise has allowed gifted youngsters with a high level of intelligence but limited financial means, the opportunity to develop these skills which can only benefit society at large.
Finally during interviews everybody should be given equal chances and along the tone set above, one of the solution would be to publish the CV of the selected candidate on the Company’s intranet or notice board, in order to remove the veil of opacity. This is the cancer affecting our youngsters.
 Rome was not built in a day !!! we still have a long way to go before getting a society whereby there will be equality for all with a fairer sharing of the wealth. However, by taking the right steps now, we will ultimately reach our goal of building a new Mauritius where each one of us will find their place.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity it is an act of JUSTICE