Mind the Gap

India is considered an emerging superpower with a GDP of $2.1 trillion in nominal terms. However, the fine print in the displayed figure is the fact that 40% of the people are below the poverty line i.e. earning less than $1.25 a day. Using only the two mentioned numbers, we can come to the conclusion that 480 million of the population contributes to only $216 billion of the nation’s GDP while the balance 720 billion contribute to $1.88 trillion. Doing the math, this turns out to be about $2616 per person. In terms of purchasing power parity- a measure of the purchasing power of currencies- the figure jumps to a startling $7848 per person per annum, which is close to the figure of a middle-income nation.

 

The reality however is a little distant. The 1.17 million ultra high net worth individuals (UHNI) of our nation contribute to $585 billion of assets and GDP. Thus the balance 719.88 billion people are left with $1.29 trillion in income, which eventually boils down to $1794 per person.

 

Based on the above calculations, we have 3 Indias.

 

Poor India (480 million) Where people earn les than $450 per annum
Middle India (719.88 million) Where people earn around $1794 per annum
Rich India (1.17 million) Where people earn $5,000,000 per annum

 

In essence, the Middle India is 4 times richer than the Poor India and the Rich India is 2787 times richer than the Middle India.

 

For the skeptics who feel these are exaggerated numbers, there more evidence. India’s GINI coefficient (which is a measure of the income inequality in a nation) has worsened from 0.32 to 0.38 in the past decade, which is proof of the fact that there has been a titanic shift in the country’s wealth from the super poor to the super rich. Had the wealth been somewhat equally distributed, we could have avoided many of the miseries that plague the nation today.

 

One might attribute this runaway disparity to crony capitalism, poor tax laws and corrupt politicians lacking an iota of conscience but its time we stop externalizing the problem. We ought to realize that the wealth we have generated is through the same corrupt system we blame and is at the expense of the 480 million who struggle to fend for themselves. Why is it that our conscience fails to awaken us? For those millions who cross over from the lower income bracket to the middle-income bracket each year, how is it is they forget their roots? They begin to embrace a façade, which caused them misery and enforce the same tyranny, which victimized them.

 

Yes, it can’t be denied that many have made a start and are working towards changing the entire landscape of the nation yet, they seem to lack the critical mass required. It is almost unfathomable that 720 million well off people cant come together to uplift 480 million people. The government is only a reflection of the people and can only do so much. However, where is the conscience of a nation, which takes pride in being a multicultural palette? What is the use of educating millions each year if we can’t create human beings?