BENGALURU: “One person’s crony capitalism is another person’s civil society,” said Dr Narendar Pani, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at the panel discussion titled ‘An Economy for the One Percent’ held at the Bangalore International Center on January19, 2017.
Dr Gita Sen,Director,Ramalingaswami Centre on Equity and Social Determinants of Health, Dr Nisha Agrawal,CEO, Oxfam India and Dr Arjun Jayadev, Associate Professor,University of Massachusetts were present in the panel. The Chair & Moderator of the discussion was Dr Pani who is also the head of Policy Research Initiative on Inequality and Human Development at NIAS.
Dr Agrawal pointed out that India is second only to Russia when it comes to wealth inequality. The former soviet nation’s ‘super-billionaires’ own 70% of the wealth while in India the elite own 58% of the total wealth of the nation.
While countries like Brazil put in necessary structures to arrest the growing inequality within the nation, India hasn’t done anything in that regard Dr Agrawal also added that trickledown economics of taxing the rich and providing for the poor is being practiced in this country, which is not inclusive and does not focus on increasing the income of the poor.
Dr Jayadev during the panel discussed that studying the wealth data rather than the income data gives a more accurate picture of the wealth inequality in India. When asked by the chair if an India that can reduce poverty as well as inequality can be imagined? To which Dr Jaydev suggested structural transformation as an option, which he felt has been given up.
While Dr Sen acknowledged the points made by the other panelists, she also added that the female participation in the work force is the miner’s canary in the issue as there has been a decline of 5-6% since 2010. She stressed that serious De-centralization is on the rise while levels of labor intensive sector is on the decline.
Addressing the condition of the agricultural sector, the panelists agreed that involvement of the government should increase and be at the same war footing as it was during Green Revolution.
They also suggested that the increased expenditure on provision and development of basic services like education and health care can act as a vital source of job creation too.