Unveiling Poverty

“Slumdog Millionaire”

All throughout history and all over the world, poverty plagues the world. People continually seek solution to this, including Jonathan Swift in his writing, A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Public. While Swift writes about poverty in Ireland, it is not the only country suffering. India is another country dealing with a poor economy and the movie Slumdog Millionaire shows this through the flashbacks of a homeless child named Jamal. Relating Jamal’s life events to the ideas brought up by Jonathan Swift help unveil the dark truths of poverty and stir emotions to find a solution.

Desperate to end his impoverished lifestyle, Jamal Malik became a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. After each question, life experiences return to him and help him find the right answer. The movie opens on a ghetto part of India filled with crowded streets and beggars around every corner. “It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rages,” writes Swift, seemingly describing Jamal’s flashback. After observing the poor environment, Jamal grew up in, the first question is introduced.

When the famous Indian movie star, Amitalo came to town, the streets flushed to his location as if he was a magnet attracting metal. It was through this craze that Jamal remembered having to jump into human feces because of the city’s poor sanitation to meet his idol. From this memory, Jamal was able to answer the question.

Because Jamal had not received a proper education, he was forced to use a lifeline when asked to recall a famous Indian saying. Not relevant to his life, the knowledge was not necessary for him to live.

Another question was answered when asked what a Hindu God was holding. Jamal recalled watching his mother as she was murdered. Running through the streets, Jamal saw a child dressed like the God holding a bow and an arrow. From then on, Jamal was forced to live on his own without his mother, making his life even more difficult. “Mothers…are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up [and] turn thieves for want of work,” but without his mother, the burden was passed to Jamal and his brother Salim.

Jamal continues to answer questions using accounts from his own life that illustrate situations Jonathan Swift writes about. Both sought to end poverty and seek better lives for those who had nothing. Through Slumdog Millionaire, one can view the poor environments that A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Public tries to address. Poverty eliminates jobs, strengthens religion, and ends conflict, and the problem is too obvious and rampant to be ignored.