India needs a new social contract 

Relevance: Inequality, Pandemic

News: The hardship visible in the form of deaths, joblessness, hunger is not just the direct consequence of the pandemic alone, but it is the result of the prevailing inequality in India. 

What is the level of inequality in Indian society? 

While the number of dollar billionaires in India expanded by 39% in the past year, at the same time, as many as 84% of Indian households suffered a fall of income. 

According to RBI, 120 million jobs were lost, of which 92 million were in the informal sector. 

As per FAO, India is home to a quarter of all undernourished people around the world. 

Oxfam reports that daily-wage workers topped the numbers of people who committed suicide in 2020, followed by self-employed and unemployed individuals.  

Income inequalities make pandemic like situation even worse for those disadvantaged by caste, gender and religious identities.

What are the causes? 

Lack of decent social housing and clean water supply, secured jobs, free necessary healthcare. 

According to Oxfam, India spends only 3.54% of its budgetary resources on healthcare, much less than other middle-income countries like Brazil (9.51), South Africa (8.25) and China (5.35). 

Also, 60% of health spending in India is out-of-pocket which among the highest in the world, and is also a major cause of poverty.  

What is the way forward?  

State should assume responsibility to provision quality healthcare, education, food, pension, clean water and housing in affordable ways for all citizens 

The resources for all of this can be managed by expanding the taxation on the super-rich. Government can introduce wealth tax and inheritance tax. 

Source: This post is based on the article “India needs a new social contract” published in Indian express on 29th Jan 2022 

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