The Irony of Ramzan in Pakistan’s Capitalism
Ramzan is supposed to be a month where one is supposed to abstain from the material and other pleasures of the world. It is a month when we are supposed to find out what it feels like to have little or nothing. Those who have plenty are supposed to know what it feels like to have nothing. The rich are supposed to give alms to the poor. The general feeling one gets is that it should be a period when the rich abstain from consumption and help the poor.
But in Pakistan the opposite is the case. During the month of Ramadan, demand for commodities goes through the roof. People are not abstaining and consuming less. In fact, they are consuming more. All major corporations in Pakistan know that in the month of Ramzan overall consumption rises. Hence, they spend incredible amounts of money advertising their products with massive billboards and TV adds that invite more consumption under the sanctimonious garb of promoting the Ramzan spirit.
The overall result is that prices of all commodities are going up. And this causes the cost of living to go up. And inevitably means that those who are poor become poorer. Those on the poverty line descend into poverty. Those in poverty descend below the hunger line. All the charity in the world cannot compare with the affect of the overall rise in cost of living. Whatever the rich are giving in terms of alms is an insignificant portion of what is being taken away from millions of families by the rise in prices.
At the end of the day, this Ramzan, instead of being a month of abstinence for the rich and alms for the poor, is a month of super-consumption for the rich and increasing poverty for the poor.
Such is the reality of Ramzan under the influence of capitalism in Pakistan.