The Haves and the Have-nots of India
India has made great strides in different fields including that of economic progress. It is a matter of satisfaction for every citizen of this country of 113 crore people. A few years back our per capita income was hovering around $500. Now we are being told that it has reached $1000. Our Finance Minister P. Chidambaram…
India has made great strides in different fields including that of economic progress. It is a matter of satisfaction for every citizen of this country of 113 crore people. A few years back our per capita income was hovering around $500. Now we are being told that it has reached $1000. Our Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has assured that it may touch US$2000 in 2016 if nine per cent annual growth rate is achieved and sustained. Good news indeed!
We can see the results of economic development in common man’s lifestyle and spending. Food offtake has improved; costlier clothes are being worn; more money is being spent on education and health; more luxury goods are being used; more cars are running on the already clogged city roads.
Of course the life of the poorest of the poor is a little better but at the same time the degree of income inequality has increased. Leader of Freedom Movement, Mahatma Gandhi had said that the poorest and the weakest men must be given highest priority. With regard to economic benefits our economist Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in his Independent Day speech, reminded us that, in the view of Father of the Nation, freedom of India would remain incomplete unless the poor are freed from poverty and hunger.
Our newspapers, which are mostly owned by capitalists, are celebrating the skyrocketing Sensex and praising the elevation of Mukesh Ambani to the status of richest man on earth. He is being projected as the greatest and the wisest person in the world and what not. They are calculating how much time is needed for counting his share capital of $60 billion (Rs. 240,000 crore) if you count $1 a second.
This media madness should not make us forget the plight of the majority of Indians who are still suffering from want, hunger, disease and premature death.
Conclusions drawn on the basis of National Sample Survey reveal a very disturbing picture. Seventy-seven per cent of people in our country, or in other words 84 crore citizens, live on a pathetically low income of Rs. 20 a day. You can easily imagine that the majority of our people are only able to get two square meals a day. Crores of Indians go hungry every day. A large number of people are half-fed and a very big chunk is suffering from hunger which leads to diseases and premature death.
Inequality between haves and have-nots is steadily increasing. The top 10 per cent Indians corner 52 per cent of total national income. The poorest 10 per cent Indians do not get even 1 per cent of national income. Do they get half a per cent? No, not even that. They get a paltry 0.21 per cent of the national bread, we are consciously not calling it cake. And this gap is constantly on the increase.
What is the use of having a few Ambanis or Premjis or Tatas and Birlas. There should be more equitable distribution of national income. The economic gains should not be allowed to be possessed and devoured by a highly placed privileged section. If this continues, all the promises of equality and fraternity will remain empty dreams only. It is not only an economic question; it is a matter of greatest moral importance. All human beings have been created equal. Therefore the gap between haves and have-nots should not be very big. The bridging of gap should be done on the one hand by the well-off people. On the other hand the Government should adopt pro-poor policies which would help in stopping concentration of wealth in a few sections. The egalitarian character of our Constitution, our commitment to common man’s welfare and our ethos demands this. Mere GDP improvement is of no use unless the poor are uplifted and every citizen is provided the opportunity to lead a want-free, fairly comfortable and dignified life.