BANGALORE: The Vice President of India, M. Hamid Ansari has said that the inequality is the number one risk because it is associated with a rise in populism and threatens the cohesiveness of countries. He was delivering the inaugural address at the First Edition of the Huddle, A Three-day Conclave organised by The Hindu newspaper, here today. The Governor of Karnataka, Shri Vajubhai Vala and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
“The 2017 edition highlights some risks facing the global system and places the issue of income inequality as the number one risk because it is associated with a rise in populism and threatens the cohesiveness of countries. It describes the present as ‘a febrile time for the world” Ansari underlined.’
The Vice President said that to enjoy the ‘freedom of,’ there is a requirement first for certain ‘freedom from’. To survive with dignity, humans require both ‘freedom from want’ and ‘freedom from fear’, he added.
The Vice President said that the improving living standards, in segments, have perhaps masked a dramatic concentration of income and wealth over the last 30 years. He further said that the richest 1% in India owned nearly 60% of the country’s total wealth, with the top 20% commanding 80%. The bottom half of Indians by contrast, collectively own only 2% of the national wealth, he added.
The Vice President said that rising inequality can lead to conflict, both at social and at national level and the growing threat of left extremism, which has been repeatedly acknowledged as the gravest security threat to Indian state, has its roots in economic deprivation and inequality in access to resources. He further said that the time has come to move the development discourse of inequality beyond the current discussion of outcomes and opportunities. The concepts of justice and fairness are tied to the idea of equity in development, he added.
The Vice President said that to view rising inequity as merely an inconvenient truth in the saga of India’s shining future would therefore be a folly and without equality, there is unlikely to be much of a future, let alone a shining one. In conclusion, the Vice President raised some uncomfortable questions about inequity, failure of trickle-down growth, environmental damage, conflicts, intolerance and improving investments in public goods.