As to causes and solutions, their report can satisfy both left and right. On the one hand: "We have seasonal employment, under employment. But not 20 years of a purposeless, meaningless existence." And on the other: "The poor in Britain seemed better off ... but [without state benefits] they'd be worse off than the poorest of our poor. In India people still take the initiative."
The Thekaekaras are not the first Indians to study the British poor. In 1842 Dwarkanath Tagore, a Calcutta entrepreneur, came to Glasgow and noted: "At present, some 300,000 people are out of employ, which poor devils are being roughly handled by the troops. They may talk of the starvation of the Hill Coolies of India, but I see around me still more distress." We can quarrel about relative perceptions of poverty, its cause and cure. What seems unarguable is that we have returned to that darker time when a large section of the population could be labelled as The Poor, with its Victorian ability to evoke both compassion and fear.Reuse content