ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making Sense of Inequality


It is indeed interesting to know that public aspirations and hope entailed in the value of equality and despair or frustration, which is reflected in the widening gaps of inequality, find their articulation in the official policy discourse of the Government of India. The recent report on the state of inequality, prepared by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) represents this official discourse about inequality in India. However, governmental thinking about equality or inequality has been a constant intellectual practice followed by the ruling parties in the past as well. Way back in 2008, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government constituted a committee of experts to establish an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in India. The UPA government, however, took a rather unusual step in giving an institutionalising expression to the principle of equality of opportunity that was to be followed by both the government as well as the private sector. The UPA government’s efforts at taking this first step, in fact, did assume only an indirect acknowledgement of the problem of inequality. This, by consequence, made inequality an empirically grotesque reality to subsume in the affirmative language of equality of opportunity. Although the UPA, under the aegis of the EEOC, made equality as the frontal question, it nonetheless pushed inequality in the background. The EEOC, envisioned during the UPA, thus suggested a possible road map of putting equality before inequality.

As the report of the EAC-PM suggests, the present government intends to start from the point of putting inequality in the forefront and equality in the background. Although there is an acknowledgement of inequality as the report tends to suggests, the report’s implementation by the government would certainly face formidable challenges. The editorial in the current issue of the Economic & Political Weekly seeks to shed some critical light on the challenges the government in power is likely to face should it take the implementation of the recommendations of the report seriously. Besides, this government’s intention to address the question of inequality also gives us an impression that the issue of inequality could be solved primarily by the government’s intervention and that market may not matter much in reducing inequality. However, we need to take a much broader view of inequality that operates through complex modalities.

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Updated On : 11th Jun, 2022
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