Undoubtedly, the Indian economy has grown well and perhaps it shall continue to do so in the future as well. One of the major contributing factors for this growth has been the economic reforms that the country had embarked upon nearly two decades ago. The liberalization reforms helped the country in several ways. It helped create prosperity in the country. The growth helped in raising the standard of living for millions of people. However, the ugly truth is that it also increased the income gap. The gap between the rich and the poor has only become starker.
The inequalities in wealth and income among people are growing. Opportunity gap is widening day-by-day. As per a new study by United Nations Development Program, inequality in the distribution of human development is distinctly pronounced in India. India ranks 119th out of the 169 countries in the human development index. That too without taking into account factors like access to education and healthcare.
A question that we ask ourselves is what is giving rise to this inequality? The answer to this is the access to opportunity. Certainly, opportunities to factors like education and employment are available to all citizens of India. However, not everyone is able to access these opportunities equally. For instance, this inequality of opportunity reflects in the unequal access to education. And as a result, the income divide is just becoming more pronounced. At the same time, this unequal access to education will lead to lower average worker productivity of the Indian people. This will hamper our GDP growth rate in the long run.
Furthermore, this inequality has started posing another problem. It has created major resentment in a large number of people. This is evident in the growing problem of insurgency in several of the country's regions. Such insurgency can lead to its own problems. The problem of land acquisition is just one of the many problems that have resulted from insurgency.
So how can the problem of inequality be solved? The answer to this lies in the inclusion and skill development of majority of the people. This means that the government will have to start taking concrete actions to follow through on its decisions. For example, merely passing the Right to Education Act in the Parliament will not help. The government must ensure schools are actually being built, teachers are being employed and students are actually able to attend them. Also, the government must take innovative routes, leveraging new technologies for education and skill development. Also, steps must be taken towards improving accessibility of healthcare facilities through public private partnerships.
A new reform towards inclusive growth is now order of day if we want to take next big leap for Indian economy.