Widening income gap in India
Economic growth and poverty reduction
Many economists to this day argue that although economic growth is a prerequisite for poverty reduction in India, as seen by bringing millions out of poverty, it may have also worsened living conditions of some poor, thus leading to a widening income gap.
WHO study in 2000
Even though India has achieved remarkable economic growth (a key component required before economic development takes place), its blatant and widening income inequality severely impacts access to education and healthcare. A study published by the World Health Organisation in 2000 concluded that it is the wealthier citizens who benefit most from public healthcare because facilities are generally better in rich areas. As for the poor areas, low wages, long working hours, lack of basic services such as first aid, drinking water and sanitation characterize them. Without access to basic amenities, the poverty-reducing impact seems fruitless.
N. C. Saxena, a member of the National Advisory Council, suggests that the widening income disparity can be accounted for by India’s badly shaped agricultural and rural safety nets. “Unfortunately, agriculture is in a state of collapse. Per capita food production is going down. Rural infrastructure such as power, road transport facilities are in a poor state,” he said. “All the safety net programmes are not working at all, with rural job scheme and public distribution system performing far below their potential. This has added to the suffering of rural India while market forces are acting in favour of urban India, which is why it is progressing at a faster rate”.