Poverty and inequality

Poverty and inequality

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According to the UNCTAD 2012 report entitled Policies for Inclusive and Balanced Growth, released on 12 September, 2012,

•    India's Gini coefficient* for consumption has risen from 0.31 in 1993-94 to 0.36 in 2009-10. A rising trend in inequality could be attributed to gains from growth being concentrated among surplus-takers (which include profits, rents and financial incomes).

•    The UNCTAD 2012 report has observed that the manufacturing sector in India could not generate sufficient employment opportunities and most of the labour force is still employed in the low remuneration informal sector and low productivity agriculture. Wage shares in total national income in the organized sector have been falling since the early 1990s.

•    The top 1 percent held a much larger share of the total wealth of the economy than the bottom 50 percent. For example, 15.7 percent compared with 8.1 percent in India in 2002-03 and their share of wealth is significantly higher than their share of income (9.0 percent share in total income by top 1 percent in India in 2002-03). The UNCTAD report has argued that high inequality deprives people of access to education and credit and prevents the expansion of domestic markets.

•    The UNCTAD 2012 report has commended the Indian Government for adopting a $5 billion plan to provide free medical care to the poorest 50 percent of the population in 2012. If generic drugs were to be used in the programme then the policy of the Government would improve access to health care and strengthen the domestic pharmaceutical industry, anticipated the report. 

* A Gini of zero denotes absolute equality, while a value of 1 (or 100 on the percentile scale) means absolute inequality.


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