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NPR Planet Money podcast about abject poverty in India reminds us that both law and technology have a higher calling

This NPR Planet Money podcast really affected me. The NPR journalists talked to a 75-year-old cobbler in Dehli. He lives in a shack and earns about $2 per day, most of which he sends home to his family in their village. That’s barely enough to stay one step ahead of hunger and disease. It offers little or no prospect that your children and grandchildren will ever be able to spend time getting an education, as opposed to working to avoid starvation, and eventually move up to middle-class status.

The journalists also interviewed an Indian economist who said it was a safe estimate that at least 250 million people in India — that’s a quarter of a billion people, in India alone — live that kind of life. They spent some time asking economists about what it would take to create the kind of jobs that would help successive generations pull themselves out of poverty.

It seems to me that this is an area where lawyers can contribute: by providing developing-world entrepreneurs with accessible business know-how — often encapsulated in contract forms and commentary — to help them do business successfully, which in turn can help the entrepreneurs create the jobs their compatriots need so badly.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Matt 2010-06-07, 16:49

    Are you familiar with the work of Hernando de Soto? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hernando_de_Soto_Polar) I wonder whether lawyers could help people with property rights. I don’t know whether that is an issue in India.

  • D. C. Toedt 2010-06-07, 17:10

    Matt, you raise an interesting point, which is that doing business successfully requires not just business-law know-how, but also an accessible legal system. I’d previously read bits and pieces about de Soto’s work; thanks for the Wikipedia link.

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