Conversation on poverty and character building

I’m fortunate to have good friends who push me to consider new ideas, deepen my introspection and strengthen my stern self-examination. With permission, I’m sharing some conversations that I’ve had with these friends in hope that they motivate you, the reader, to have such conversations with your friends.

A friend wrote to me and said the following about India, “I know there are big changes needed in our country but it won’t happen over night nor will it happen if the people themselves don’t change the thinking: especially when they give up thinking that they were born poor and die poor and don’t have any power. Anna’s situation is a great example of what unity of poor people can do.”

I wrote the following in response:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. What you’ve described is mental poverty, which is more invasive than material poverty and is often linked to a fearful, undisciplined and unloving character. This is why, in my opinion, character building naturally leads to nation building, and not the other way around. Character building requires tremendous effort, even more so than building the economy. I contend, however, that the social fabric of our nation must be woven with the moral thread of our people. It’s only then can we strive forward to adhere the laws of society to the laws of humanity.


About Ranjodh Singh
I'm currently an Ally in the Public Allies New York Apprenticeship ( Through the apprenticeship, I'm partnered with NYCRx (, a nonprofit organization that improves the health of New Yorkers using public health interventions. I'm excited to continue serving, but doing so closer to health and medicine. I'm also enjoying NYC, which I find to be an enriching environment.

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