[WSMDiscuss] Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India

Umakant uk4in at yahoo.co.in
Wed Dec 12 13:21:11 CET 2018


Greetings!Wealth inequality in India is borne out of a complex and unique set of factorswhich includes caste, class and a host of other factors which may include,region, religion, access to common resources, etc.  


Pleaseclick on the links mentioned below to read a news item and also the workingpaper about this important issue of wealth inequality. 


Do passit on to others in your circle/networks.  


Study throwslight on rising wealth & consumption inequality in India 
SourabhGupta, Economic Times, December 10, 2018 



Wealth and consumption inequality in India isrising, with the gap between the forward and other castes becoming wider overthe years, according to a World Inequality Database study supervised by ThomasPiketty, an expert on wealth and income gaps. 

The author, Nitin Kumar Bharti of the ParisSchool of Economics, has estimated that the wealth share of the rich—top 10% ofthe population—has risen from 45% in 1981 to 68% in 2012. Moreover, thehistorical inequality in wealth distribution along caste lines has not beencorrected even though the situation of every caste has improved over time. 



Wealth Inequality,Class and Caste in India (1961-2012) 

NitinKumar Bharti, WID.world Working Paper No. 2018/14, November 2018 



Indiais a very peculiar country with a complex and regressive caste system. In thestudy of wealth inequality one can’t ignore this societal peculiarity which ishistorically older than wealth inequality. Thus, the second sub-topic is understandingeconomic inequality within the framework of caste. This paper is limited topresenting some simple ranking orders of average wealth and consumption,representing inequality by deciles within the caste-based framework (i.e.segregation of castes based on wealth, with higher castes concentrated more intop wealth deciles and lower castes concentrated more in lower deciles). Somemay wonder if caste has any relevance today. Unfortunately past unequal distributionof wealth along caste lines has never been corrected. A simple depiction is theland distribution in India. Land forms a major part of wealth in India (RuralIndia- 65% and Urban India 45%). In the past land distribution was entirelybased on caste where the upper-castes of society possessed almost all of theland and lower castes predominantly formed the working class. Colonial periodconcretized the possessions of land by distributing land titles and landownership. Indeed, post independence India adopted land reforms aiming for thedistribution of land ownership to the real farmers who were mainly from thelower castes. However, even going by the reports of the government this measurehas met with partial success and the distribution did not go well beyondcertain ranks of the castes. Early adoption of an egalitarian meritocraticsystem was accompanied by a support system in the form of positive affirmation(reservation/quotas) for the lower castes. The data shows that the situation ofevery caste has improved over time, but there is no convergence between upperand lower castes. The rate of growth of forward/upper castes in terms ofacquiring wealth or consumption is higher than the lower castes. Provided thereare positive affirmation policies, one will expect the opposite. It hints towardsthe harsh reality of ongoing caste-based discrimination in the society. 





Umakant,Ph. D 


My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality. 
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