HomeIndiaDuring the Modi era, is rising inequality weakening India’s foundation?

During the Modi era, is rising inequality weakening India’s foundation?

During the Modi era, is rising inequality weakening India’s foundation?

Prabha Gupta

Death consumes life, but inequality consumes generations. A government that fails to curb inequality gradually undermines a nation. What remains is merely the lofty towers of the affluent, from which they observe silence spreading for miles around. In the words of Victoria Woodhull, “It is the struggling people who form the foundation of a country; if the foundation is rotten or insecure, the entire structure will eventually collapse.” Victoria, the first woman to run for president in the United States in 1872, spoke wisdom that resonates today.

Recent statistics paint a grim picture of India’s foundation. On March 26, the ‘Hurun Research Institute’ released the Global Rich List-2024, revealing that India currently boasts 271 billionaires, with 94 added in 2023 alone. This surge suggests a troubling trend: nearly one-third of India’s billionaires emerged in just one year. Notably, in 2023, India produced the highest number of billionaires globally, second only to America.

At first glance, these figures might suggest a new golden era for India, a testament to its development. However, the reality is starkly different. Under Modi’s policies, the billionaire count swells annually, exacting a toll on India’s common citizens. What price do ordinary Indians pay? According to the prestigious Paris-based ‘World Inequality Lab Report,’ India’s current billionaire-driven inequality surpasses that of the British Raj..

India’s economy hovers just over $3 trillion, yet the wealth amassed by 271 individuals exceeds $1 trillion. This staggering centralization of wealth signals a troubling trend. Despite India’s increasing income, Modi’s administration fails to include the populace in its prosperity. While Modi touts free ration distribution to 800 million Indians, his government grants influential industrialists control over vital assets, exacerbating inequality.

India becomes a haven for select industrialists but a graveyard for the majority. The government’s fixation on a privileged few erodes the nation’s fabric, as evidenced by the report’s findings. Since Modi’s ascent to power in 2014, inequality has surged, fostering an authoritarian regime with centralized decision-making.

The nexus between big business and government flourishes under Modi’s tenure, amplifying societal and governmental inequalities. Revelations surrounding electoral bonds underscore the government’s opacity, fueling suspicions of pharmaceutical companies influencing policy at the expense of public health. The government’s neglect of the populace’s well-being is evident.

Modi’s government must explain how 1% of Indians amassed 40% of the country’s wealth, particularly as inequality peaks under his leadership. Despite promises to address unemployment, Modi’s Chief Economic Advisor admits the government’s limitations, even as income disparities widen.

Investigating the roots of inequality, the report identifies a lack of public investment in essential sectors like health and education. This neglect risks India’s transformation into a plutocracy, eroding Nehruvian ideals of integrity and institutional trust.

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