Why do India’s inequalities persist?

The inequalities in India have been persistent for a long time as a result of the lack of access to public goods for the lower class. This is evident in the Gini coefficient, which is the measure of inequality, with 0 being the best and 1 the worst. The Gini coefficient for India has constantly fluctuated, “rising to 0.33 in 2005” (Zagha, 142). “The average net worth of the top 10 per cent of the population is 380 times that of the bottom 10 per cent” and this is reflected in the Gini coefficient (Sengupta).

Even though there has been economic growth and inflation is low in India recently, basic amenities for living, such as water and electricity, are harder to access by the poor in rural areas than the rich. There is “rationing of the access to these public goods” for the poor whilst on the other hand the rich are able to afford generators for electricity (Zagha, 142). “Unless there is more equitable growth, with better access to clean water and stable jobs, for the poor”, they will still have a low welfare (Sengupta). Without access to such basic things, there is a domino effect as other areas of their lives are affected, such as their working abilities and performance in schools, which ends up creating a larger inequality gap.

Infastructure in India is also an issue as it is very expensive: “40 per cent of the billionaire wealth is due to infrastructure, construction, mining and telecommunications”(Sengupta). Hence, the poor cannot afford what could increase their comfort level in society and result in better standards of living. Thus, they are compelled to stay in dysfunctional houses for shelter. Higher public spending on infrastructure and social reforms, by the government, can aid this problem.

India has a very slow urbanization movement. Majority of workers are migrating from the agricultural sector that brings low income, to the urban sector. However, since “urbanization takes time, some people see their income rise ahead of others”, which, when incorporated into the Gini coefficient, makes the income gap larger (Zagha, 143). As a result, people in the rural sectors have much lower incomes as compared to all others working in the manufacturing sector with better opportunities and higher incomes.

The living standards of the poor in India will be better off if the government takes into consideration the issue of access to public and basic goods. With a higher access to these goods, India will definitely have a smaller inequality gap resulting in a better Gini coefficient and improved living standards for the poor.

References:

Zagha, Roberto. 2013. “India’s Inequality: An Uneasy Reconciliation with

Economic Growth.” Current History112 (753).

Sengupta, Jayshree. “Growth and Growing Inequality”. The Tribune: Voice of the People. Feb 16. 2015.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/growth-and-growing-inequality/42436.html

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3 thoughts on “Why do India’s inequalities persist?

  1. I liked that you highlighted WHY exactly the poor cannot break out of their current condition and eventually become rich, or just live a better life. It is nearly impossible for them to afford essentials and live a decent life, let alone attempt to strive for a “rich person” job. I would just like to know what the government is doing about this situation? Nothing? Because it seems like there could be several smaller initiatives that the government could put into place that would greatly benefit many indian citizens.

  2. I agree that the limited access of the lower class to quality basic goods such as clean water, electricity, decent housing and more will show its effects in extensive aspects of their lives. For instance, take the example of a working class poor man getting infected from unclean water. This would lead to a poor individual having to stay sick at home missing work causing him to earn less. The chances if this happening to the rich individual is lower as they would have access to clean water and overall a better environment pro health. This individual would probably not even be able to afford getting treated at a hospital which could cause a simple illness that could easily be recovered from to enter chronic state making his situation worse. Assuming he has a child to take care of and has been ill for sometime and cannot afford to pay for his child’s school fees in the next semester or academic year. This will negatively affect the child setting him/her back. Even if this were not the case poor electricity conditions could lead to the child being unable to study at home in the evenings after school. With just the right combination of setbacks due to lack of basic necessities, circumstances may lead to the child staying in poverty.

  3. Sadly, this is a matter of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The people who hold positions of power and the people who have the power and funds to make life better for people in places like India or Ghana or Nigeria, focus on areas that are relatively more developed. It’s not a matter of luck that these areas are not inhabited by the poorer members of the community. There are hardly development projects in poorer communities – they would not bring in the money that would otherwise come through in richer neigbourhoods. The poor cannot afford basic health care, education, housing and for the most part, they remain stuck in this cycle.
    An important factor in India is the caste system. This does not help the Dalits who are at the bottom rank and viewed as untouchable. They are considered as people born for the menial jobs. If you can’t work as anything other than a toilet cleaner, for example, it is difficult to improve your financial status which would have otherwise allowed you to afford. Hopefully, there is continuous hard work to change provisions that have allowed for this conspicuous discrimination. This would be a great step in removing hindrances of economic growth. Additionally, there should be intentional provision of basic amenities to people who are not able to afford them. This, after all, is the role of the government.

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