[op-ed snap]Drastic reforms needed to bridge inequality


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Adressing concern of rising inequality


As per an Oxfam survey, India is a highly unequal country on all counts. There are inequalities in wealth, income and consumption as well as structural inequalities of opportunity, region and social groups.


  • IT is the season of promises. Every important political leader is offering a handful of them.
  • But the economic problems facing the nation will remain the same in the next five years unless drastic reforms are undertaken to bridge the rising inequality, the gender gap, slowdown in industrial growth, low investment in the social sectors and India’s inadequate infrastructure.


  • Recent surveys by Oxfam, Pew Research and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have spelt out clearly that the main concern of voters is jobs.

Nature of problems

  • The problems India is facing are hard to solve in the short term and only incremental changes can be undertaken in the five-year term of any government at the Centre has been pointed out by the latest Oxfam survey.
  • It gives a clear view of the perennial problems that India is facing and how women are being left out of the growth process.


  • Job creation and employment are the key issues in fighting inequality.
  • Three out of four women don’t work and most are paid 34 per cent less than men performing the same job with the same qualifications.
  • Women are unable to work mainly because they carry a high burden of unpaid care work in the household.

2.Decline in worker’s wages

  • According to Oxfam, the nature of production in the organised manufacturing sector has changed as it has an increasing share of profits and declining share of workers’ wages in the net value added.

3. The marginalised section is ignored

  • The structural problems in society remain unaddressed and inadequate attention is being paid to the socially marginalised and disadvantaged groups.
  • They remain at the bottom of the pile and are forced into stigmatised jobs that ruin their chances of social and economic transformation.

4. Corruption

  • Corruption is endemic. According to the Washington-based Pew Research’s survey of 2,521 respondents, 64 per cent think that most politicians are corrupt.
  • According to another recent report, ‘All India Survey on Governance Issues and Voting Behaviour 2018’ by the ADR, the important questions facing rural and urban India are also mainly economic.

5. Changed Priorities

  • Better employment opportunities, better healthcare and education, and the availability of safe drinking water are the top three voters’ priorities, followed by the need for better roads and public transport.
  • People want reduced air pollution and safety for their families through better policing and maintenance of law and order.

6. Agricultural Concerns

  • There are important agriculture-related governance issues due to the dependence on it by half of the population despite falling wages. Availability of water for irrigation is a major concern.
  • The farmers continue to be in deep debt and hence ease of access to loans is a major concern. They are also concerned about getting higher, more remunerative prices for their produce and are worried about the quantum of agricultural subsidy for seeds and fertilisers.


If the election issues had remained mainly economic, the outcome of the elections would have been quite unpredictable.


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