Asia is home to some of the fastest growing economies, yet remains the poorest region in the world. India in particular has a reputation of booming economic wealth, while millions suffer from debilitating poverty, often without access to food, shelter, clean water, proper sanitation, education, or healthcare. Much of this poor population comes from the lowest levels of the caste system. Poverty, compounded with the caste systems inherent social inequality, continues to breed a number of injustices, like gender violence and discrimination, infant mortality, child labor, and human trafficking.
Illiteracy serves as a leading inhibitor to lifting oneself out of poverty. Without the ability to read, write, and count, employment is scarce and exploitation abundant. India’s literacy rate has dropped below that of many states in sub-Saharan Africa. Illiteracy has a kind of “genetic” effect—the children of illiterate parents inherit generations of poverty.
In the next 12 years, India’s population is expected to reach 1.5 billion and become the world’s largest nation, increasing the number of families living on less than $1.25 a day and increasing the disparity between the wealthy and the millions struggling to survive.