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Himanshu Himanshu on Inequality in India: A re-examination

WIDER Seminar Series

On 27 June 2018 Associate Professor Himanshu Himanshu from Jawaharlal Nehru University presents a re-examination of trends in inequality in India. 

Abstract - Inequality in India: A re-examination

This paper presents a re-examination of trends in inequality in India. This paper uses a variety of indicators and data sources covering consumption expenditure, income, wealth and social indicators to examine the trend in inequality across several dimensions.

Preliminary analysis of the available data suggests that contrary to popular perception, India is not a low inequality country. In fact, India would rank among high inequality countries. What also distinguishes the India story is that unlike most countries where growth in recent decades has been accompanied by stagnant or declining inequality, in India inequality has increased in all dimensions, particularly since the introduction of economic reforms of 1991.

It also appears that much of the increase in inequality since 1991 has been the result of policies skewed in favour of capital and the privileged. Further disaggregation of inequality by caste, religion and ethnicity also suggests that presence of significant horizontal inequality across caste, religion, region and gender threatens to hurt the India growth story. It is also likely to threaten the social and political stability of the country.