According to a study done by Oxfam, the richest 1 per cent of Indians owns 58 per cent of its economy. The eight richest people in the world own half its wealth. India’s population has touched $1.3 billion mark and its economy is valued at up to $3 trillion. There was a time when a majority of the population used to believe that the disproportionate distribution of wealth was organised loot and there was regular rich-poor conflict.
The accumulation of wealth started with the growth of mercantile capitalism in Europe and reached its zenith with the massive exploitation of labourers. Communism and Socialism are products of the war against this exploitation and the fight against capitalism. As a result, the state started to own the resources and wealth of the nation and efforts were made for their redistribution.
The 1917 Bolshevik revolution, led by Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, was one such uprising. It was one of the bloodiest revolutions. The state began to own the wealth of the nation and property was snatched away from the privileged classes. This led to the spread of Communism throughout the globe.
However, the US led the battle against Communism. This led to the emergence of a Cold War between the US and the USSR. Communism was winning the battle during the initial phase of the Cold War and many nations accepted it as their means of governance. In response, welfare states came into existence in Europe. Labourers and the masses felt relieved because measures were taken for their benefit. This was entirely based on the philosophy of equality. Every measure was taken for the success of Communism and Socialism. For five decades, Communism had immense support. It was only the collapse of the USSR in 1991 that led to the dissipation of the myth of the invincibility of Communism.
This decline in faith re-energised Capitalism in a new way. Capitalist ideas were spread with more energy and vigour. This has led to the extremely disproportionate distribution of wealth. But now, such accumulation of wealth is being attributed to the skill and intelligence of the person accumulating it. Excessive accumulation used to be called immoral. Now a wealthy person is idealised as a smart, intelligent person capable of making money. A person building a Rs 10,000-crore bungalow and another gifting his son an aeroplane worth Rs 500 crore are a result of such an ethos. Inequality and injustice are not only the result of illegal activity; there are also legal methods which are being used by cunning people.
A scientific approach too leads to the conclusion that it is not possible to accumulate such an enormous amount of wealth in a single lifetime. According to research studies, the size of the human brain is about 1,600 cc. Another study suggests that a normal human being is capable of using around 8 per cent of her brain and a genius can use up to 12 per cent. The question is: How did the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population get their brain and from where did they acquire the high-functioning biology which the other 99 per cent does not own? If intelligence is the source behind wealth accumulation, then the wealthiest group ought to have a higher functioning brain. Clearly, the level of inequality can’t be justified even in scientific terms.
The level of inequality can be judged from the fact that the rich do not have time to enjoy their prosperity, while, on the other hand, the poor have ample time but no prosperity to enjoy. The inequality in society is further aggravated by spreading the idea to those at the bottom of the pyramid that such an amassing of wealth is the result of the hard labour and smart planning done by the top 1 per cent. With the level of inequality, poverty and hunger prevailing in India, it is hard to believe how that privileged class enjoy their wealth and prosperity.
Though the prosperous section of society has succeeded in convincing the masses that the accretion of capital is a result of their hard work, this is not true. Nor is such inequality sustainable. It is only a matter of time till this myth is busted.
The writer is a BJP MP in the Lok Sabha
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