Economic Inequality: Increasing Gap between the participants of Indian Economy By Harshit Sharma from Amity Law School, Madhya Pradesh
India, a country known for its culture, tradition and heritage, is also popular for showing drastic fluctuations between the life-styles of its constituents as well as is embedded with an unexplainable system of economic inequality within its territorial demarcation, which has its origin from immemorial antiquity. Carrying forward this notion, and citing the wisdom words of Walt Whitman, stated as, “The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damming poverty, but, the land in which there are the most homesteads, free holds - where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough - a modest living - and no man is made possessor or beyond the sane & beautiful necessities.”
According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2016, India’s top 1% of the rich hold 58.4% of total wealth of the Nation, noted to be just behind Russia where 1% of its population hold 74.5% of nation’s total wealth. And this provides a dogmatic situation for our country whose one pillar according to the Preamble of its constitution is “Socialism”[i], but the current circumstances show a different story, and clearly provides instances of non-compliance to this principle thereby creating a huge gap between haves and have not’s, Inspite of the formulation of various harsh laws and strict economic policies in this regard from time to time.
Presence of economic inequality in a Nation, is a draconian situation with which the country must tackle and it is an undisputed fact that this situation is faced by majority of countries but some take it positively while other take it negatively. The main factors or causes which has ultimately made this gap rigid are various, which includes,
- Unbalanced growth rate of different sectors,
- Highly unequal asset distribution, which is further affected by numerous factors like skill, talent, capability, inheritance of assets, luck & opportunity etc. The marginal household (with holdings of 1 hectare) constitutes that 72% of rural households hold 17% of the land, whereas, those with large holding (above 10 hectares) constitutes 1% households who hold 14% of the total area.[ii]
- Increase in population, vicious circle of poverty, lack of resources and concentration of the same has resulted in the inadequate employment generation, which can be seen through unemployment rate of our country.
These factors have caused disbalance between equal distribution of assets and income, which has effected the Indian Economy, as well as, the inhabitants of the Nation, adversely. The following are the problems which arose due to presence of this undeterred process of economic inequality, which caused various disabilities in the societies, especially among children born in a family with low income which resulted in higher risk of child mortality rate and communication of various diseases.[iii] Economic Inequality in a Nation is regarded as an evil which stifles the growth, increases crime-rate, decreases health and sanitation sense, increases political inequality, decreases education and literacy rate, etc. However, there are certain advantages of inequality as it drives growth due to competition, increases fairness by the system of checks & balances by one another.
In order to curb these effects and to attain ideal stage of economic equality (which is not possible), a 10-step procedure[iv] which is propounded by Jared Bernstein which basically talks about the attainment of Full employment must be followed. Furthermore, in respect of India some hard steps should be taken which shall include,[v]
- Making it a political campaign issue,
- Land reforms and increasing taxation on wealthy persons and luxurious goods,
- Giving voice to oppressed groups,
- Eliminating caste discrimination,
- Improving balance of Mass Media,
- Wider access to basic quality services and public utility tools,
- Growth with aim to benefit of many and not few,
- Development taking in disables too,
- Charity work by riches should be promoted for poor’s,
- Breaking vicious circle of poverty and implementation of proper universal pension scheme with alterations, time-to-time.
- Implementation of Strict Governmental policies,
- Increasing minimum wages,
- Putting an end to residential segregation,
- Investing in education, and
- Building assets for working families.
Therefore, we can infer from the above stated situation that, there always exists two facets of each thing, but the dimension of the two can differ as is seen in this problem, the disadvantages of economic equality, by a good margin, overtook the advantages of it, which could be derived from effective use and implementation of this scheme. For this purpose, every individual and Government should come-together to overcome this evil and, the focus of political agendas must shift towards it, discarding other not-so-important issues, because it is rightly said that,
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ill a prey, where WEALTH accumulates, & men DECAY”.
- Oliver Goldsmith
[i] The set of beliefs that states that all people are equal and should share equally in the country’s money, or the political systems based on these beliefs. (Cambridge Dictionary)
[ii] Smriti Chand, What are the important causes of Income inequalities in India, Young Article Library (29th July ’17, 19.27 hrs.,), http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/economics/what-are-the-important-causes-of-income-inequalities-in-india/3041/ .
[iii] According to the report of UNICEF, 28 percent of Indian children born between 2006 and 2010 were underweight at birth, and approximately 48 percent of children under the age of 5 were affected by moderate to severe growth stunting because of malnutrition.
[iv] Jared Bernstein, 10 Solution to Fight Economic Inequality, Talk Poverty (30th July 2017, 12.32hrs), https://talkpoverty.org/2015/06/10/solutions-economic-inequality/ .
[v] The guardian,13 ways to tackle inequality in India, The Guardian (30th July 2017, 12.38hrs), https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/apr/22/india-elections-tackling-inequality-advice.
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