Rich-Poor Gap: India's Newly-Minted Billionaires
The news of the newly-minted Indian billionaires is bringing sharper focus on the growing rich-poor gap in India. The Times of India reports Communist Party leader Sitaram Yechury claiming that on the one hand, 36 Indian billionaires constituted 25% of India’s GDP while on the other, 70% of Indians had to do with Rs 20 a day. "A farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes. The gap between the two Indias is widening," he said.
The growing wealth gap is also a big concern in other BRIC countries such as China and Russia. Fully a third of the new billionaires come from Russia (35), China (28) and India (19). The Chinese government is trying to tackle the growing rich-poor, urban-rural divide, a major cause of the rise in incidents of social unrest and violence in the world's most populous nation. The estimates of the urban-rural income gap vary by anywhere from 3 times to six times.
It is not unusual to see the rich-poor gap in the early stages of explosive growth in economies where the focus is on wealth creation rather than distribution. However, if this continues for an extended period of time, there is significant potential for widespread social unrest and serious political insatiability that can threaten the very foundations of a nation. From the recent speeches by the political leadership in India and China, it is clear that there is an acknowledgment of the issues and willingness to work on more equitable distribution of the fruits of progress.
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