Monday, October 23, 2017

Income Disparity in India: The Dark Side of Growth

In 2008, the finance minister P. Chidambaram claimed that the Indian government’s policies were both pro-growth and pro-equality for alleviating the poverty plaguing the nation. The minister also mentioned a vision of achieving 85 percent of the population, nearly 600 million, eventually migrating to cities to have proper access to water, electricity, education, healthcare, and other basic human rights. Instead, the government has been participating in unconstitutional land takeovers, trampled the democratic rights of the majority, pursued nuclear energy, increased natural resource usage, and significantly increased air and water population under the disguise of growth that has simply added to the misery of millions.

While the government seems to believe that urbanization will benefit the people, the model fails to understand that shifting inhabitants in large droves to already overburdened, unsanitary, and polluted cities will do little to improve the human condition. After all, there are already estimated to be 93 million urban slum dwellers living in deplorable conditions in India. With economic growth slowing down to just eight or nine percent annually, the model provided by the financial minister also lacks a sound explanation on just where the jobs are going to come from the cater to India’s increasing urbanized population.

After 22 years since the nation adopted these neo-liberalism views, the poverty alleviation rate has stagnated while the disparity between the top and bottom ten percents of the population has more than doubled since 1991. According to the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development, the alarming doubling in income discrepancy has helped India to become considered as one of the worst performers among the other emerging economies of the world. Due to the restructuring of agriculture and tremendous push for urbanization, more than 250,000 rural farmers have already committed suicide since 1997 within India.

With the neo-liberal model that is currently being employed in the nation, India is experiencing the counter to development without any significant progress. Instead of investing in the health, welfare, education, and social equity, the government is strictly focused on financial capital and corporate power. On the dark side of the growth, the elite continue to become richer and build their billion dollar estates overlooking starving children. With a closer look at the social conditions in India, it becomes apparent that urbanization is not the natural policy and has caused the resulting forms of conflicts that plague the nation today.