Why Do India’s Inequalities Persist?

Despite India’s success as one of the largest democratic nations, inequality has been on the rise. India has the highest number of poor people in the world and still suffers from problems  among its people with malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and a poor education system. The persistence of India’s inequality can largely be attributed to it’s history of a caste system. By creating a known social hierarchy the caste system marginalizes those at the bottom pushing them into a cycle of poverty. Even though the caste system is more permeable than in past, its effects are still seen socially, politically and economically.

In order to reduce inequality, the government must establish an obligation to reduce poverty and stimulate the economy in order to allow for much needed social programs to reach the poor communities. The remnants of the caste system have made it difficult to provide basic needs and economic opportunity to the systematically underprivileged groups. In order to have success in reducing inequality, the values in India must be changed. Even though the country has not seen vast improvements through the legalistic approach, activists are still pushing for reform and are gaining support from Congress Party Leaders and President Sonia Gandhi.

Economically, the country has seen success yet this economic growth has not reached the lower class. The reason for this being India’s lack of a commitment to public services and provision of resources. India has also struggled to generate job opportunities in the manufacturing sector and provide adequate educational opportunities to those of the lower class. Since India’s infrastructure is not well developed and there is no public system of transportation, it makes it difficult to travel to work and school. This creates a vicious cycle where children of poorer families are not educated and therefor are unable to have any generational mobility.

In order for India to reduce levels of inequality, the values and norms of the country must first be shifted away from the deeply ingrained caste system. By changing their prospectives, the country will then have more support for social programs assisting the poor. The country also suffers from its lack of infrastructure which further disadvantages the poor’s access to education and work. India must focus on stimulating their economy and ensuring that it’s benefits reach more than just the top tiers. Infrastructure including education and effective social programs should be a priority for India in it’s attempts to reduce inequality.

Zagha, Roberto. 2013. “India’s Inequality: An Uneasy Reconciliation with Economic Growth.” Current History 112 (753).

O’Neil, Patrick H. Cases in Comparative Politics. 5th ed. S.l.: W W Norton, 2015.




2 thoughts on “Why Do India’s Inequalities Persist?

  1. While I definitely agree with the author on most points of this article, I’d like to argue against one point. The author argues that India lacks “a commitment to public services and provision of resources” which to an extent is falsifiable. The government appropriates a considerable amount for the poorest people of India. However, due to corrupt middle-men, much of the resources never reach the people in the bottom economic (and social) strata. With a rating of 38 on a 100 scale, with higher scores being better, India is ranked as the 85th least corrupt nation (i.e. very corrupt) in the world. This corruption plays a massive role in the inequality that persists in India.

  2. The author makes a case for India’s caste system being the main reason for inequality. Values

    have to change to give more support for social programs to aid the poor and allow them to rise

    out of poverty. But how would a change in values occur? If a change in values is desired, won’t

    the government have to change its priorities in order for money to be redistributed to the lower


    -Phil Caron

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