Stressing that without equality there is unlikely to be much of a future, Vice President Hamid Ansari on Friday said rising inequality is seen as a contributing cause for the rise of authoritarian leaders, with a divisive agenda fuelled by sectarianism, xenophobia and nationalism. “While economists may continue to debate the extent and causes of inequality, there can be little doubt about its implications for the political, social and economic fabric of society,” Ansari said.
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“More worryingly, rising inequality is seen as a contributing cause for the rise of authoritarian leaders, often with a divisive agenda fuelled by sectarianism, xenophobia and nationalism,” he said.
Rising inequality can lead to conflict, both at a social and national level, Ansari said, adding, “research has shown that in contrast to oligarchic regimes; democracies avoid serious political turbulence only so long as they ensure that the relative level of inequality between the rich and the poor does not become excessively large.”
Ansari was speaking at The Hindu’s “The Huddle,” an interactive event with moment personalities from different walks of life.
Noting that studies indicate that social conflicts are likely to break out in situations where there are large inequalities between different groups, he said some researches have concluded that ethnic groups with incomes much lower than country’s average per capita income are more likely to engage in civil war.
“New protest movements have broken out around the world, many arguably rooted in burgeoning inequality,” he said citing the ‘Occupy Movement’ and the ‘Arab Spring’ as examples.
Noting that growing Left extremism, which has been acknowledged as the “gravest” security threat to the Indian state, has its roots in economic deprivation and inequality in access to resources, Ansari said it has also been recognised that growing social inequality corrodes social cohesion and can destabilise states.
He said some research has found that the likelihood of a country remaining mired in poverty or attaining sustainable growth has a strong relation to the average life expectancy of the citizenry.
“There, it is argued, that a shorter average lifespan leaves less time to reap the returns on investment in human capital,” he added.