” we may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race” – Kofi Annan
The Oxford Committee for famine relief (Oxfam) released a report in 2021 named as ‘ The Inequality Virus’. This report highlighted the increasing inequalities in India. The United Nations (UN) defined Inequality as ” the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities”. The report was released on the opening day of World Economic Forum Davos dialogue.
Inequality destabilises the social and political order in a society. The report highlighted the fact that COVID-19 has the potential to increase the economic inequality in almost all the countries. Even if the world economy recover, the recovery rate is uneven among the countries and within the countries.
The report stated that the wealth of indian billionaires increased by 35% during lock down. 1000 richest people worldwide recovered their losses from the pandemic within nine months. In contrast poor people may take a decade to go back to their pre pandemic standing. Wealth earned by top 11 billionaires during pandemic can sustain Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee(MGNREG’S) or the Health Ministry for next ten years.
Impact of COVID-19 on different sectors of economy :
The impact of COVID-19 can be seen on different sectors of economy like education, sanitation e. t. c. When it comes to Informal sector out of total 12.2 crore people who lost their jobs in India, 75% of jobs were lost in the informal sector. When it comes to education, as education shifted online, digital divide worsened inequalities in India. Only 4% of rural households had a computer and less than 15% of rural households had Internet connection.
On sanitation part, out of poorest 20% only 6% have access to non shared sources of improved sanitation. 59.6% of indian population lives in a room or less. The unemployment of women rose by 15%, this increase can result in a loss to India GDP to 8% .
SOLUTIONS TO TACKLE INEQUALITY :
Investing in free universal health care, education and other public services, this can reduce inequality including caste and gender inequality
Delivering a free people’s vaccine to all citizens to tackle the pandemic.
Providing greater job security with labour rights, sick leave and paid parental leave.
Giving unemployment benefits to people
Reintroduction of wealth taxes and ensure financial taxes while putting an end to tax dodging.
Increasing investment in green economy which prevents degradation of the planet and preserves it for coming generations.
Bridging the gap between haves and have-nots is the need of the hour. National leaders does not want India to be a mere political democratic country. Their main aim and the philosophy behind the Indian constitution is to build a egalitarian society and to establish welfare state. This can be achieved by reducing the gap between haves and have-nots. Though there are many government policies which focus on improving the conditions of poorer sections of the society the main problem lies with the implementation process. So the government must take steps to increase the efficacy to implement these schemes.