Thursday, April 25, 2024

India shining?


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The more India grows, the more its underlings suffer. This is precisely what a just-released report by the World Inequity Lab has stated too. It says India has become more unequal in terms of wealth possession compared to the time of the British Raj. The top one percent control 40 per cent of the national wealth – against the 15 per cent during the Raj. Inequality declined till the early 1980s, while it has skyrocketed since the turn of the century; and the scenario further worsened in the last 10 years. Even top capitalist – the United States does not have such a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. “The Billionaire Raj is more unequal than the British Raj.”
Indira Gandhi won a national election by raising the slogan of Garibi Hatao in the early 1970s. Yet, nearly 40 years later, when hunger still remained India’s main worry, the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA brought in the national food security law and the system of subsidized ration to the BPL families. India could afford it because the nation’s wealthy coffers could sustain such a splurge. In electoral terms, however, this did not help the Congress or the UPA. They were driven out of power amid a grand saffron offensive with Narendra Modi as its mascot in 2014. In the past 10 years, Modi introduced more welfare schemes. Yet, the plight of India’s poor remains more or less the same as it was half a century ago. Wages of low-paid workers are not going up in ways that would match the changes in the cost of living index. Most private sector institutions are not in a mood to raise the wages of their employees. The organised workforce, including the government employees, manage to get regular salary increases. They form only a small percentage of the workforce. The rich, overall, are thriving. Today, as the Lab report notes, the wealth of the top 10 per cent of the population rose from 30 percent to 60 percent of the national wealth. The rest, the 90 per cent of the population, bear the brunt of the economic woes.
All these are crystal clear even without a global inequity tracking agency’s certificate. Around us, the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. The poor camouflage their distress by, say, owning a scooter or refurbishing their homes. The poverty in this country is due to the absence of effective governance. Men with feet of clay, the loudmouths, the semi-literates, run the show. The loot brigade, be it business sharks, politicians in power or the bureaucrats, form the cream of the society and enjoy their life. India is shining for such people only!

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