India, a country characterized by its diverse culture which houses multitudes of people, is also home to widespread economic inequality and poverty. With its economy abruptly cemented between the hands of the rich and the poor, where one has a rampant inflow of wealth and the other who struggles to make their ends meet. In the last decade, while some of the richest people of the country further managed to climb the income ladder, witnessing a whopping increase in their capital, a majority of the population saw only a marginal increase of 1% in the overall growth of wealth. This gross economic inequality can also be linked with the widespread poverty prevalent amongst the masses.
Income inequality, often defined in terms of percentage of income to a percentage of the population, refers to the unequal distribution of individual income across the country. In a country, where economic growth and income inequality are closely knit together, growing income disparity is becoming a major cause of concern. In India, according to a recent report by Oxfam, India’s richest 1% population held four times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70% of the country’s population. Oxfam study, ‘Time to Care’, that was published ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, also reported that the world’s 2,153 billionaires possessed more wealth than the 4.6 billion people, who constituted 60% of the planet’s population.
“The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these,” said Oxfam India CEO.
The report further stated that the combined total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires was comparatively higher than the total Union Budget of India for the year 2018-19, which was reported to be Rs. 24,42,200 crores.
While the country’s economic inequality is at a staggering high, it threatens the pillars of the constitution that call for socio-economic equality for its citizens. This in turn also contributes to heightened social tension, creating ruckus amongst the different classes of the society. It is not known to many that income inequality affects both the rich and the poor alike, harmful and counterproductive to the interests of the society. Income equality also enables individuals to fully contribute to the growth of the country’s economy as well as ensures equal opportunities for all.
With the uneven distribution of capital, the gulf between the country’s super-rich and the poor seemingly remains unabridged, which also poses a danger to the country’s youth that may even falter the economy leading to social and economic tensions in the society. Therefore, it is imperative for the country to look for a more holistic approach and target inclusive growth to ensure the quality of opportunity for all.