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.
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.