Inevitable Inequality

For many millennia, inequality has been a part and parcel of the social structure. Philosophers and economists have debated non-stop about it. In every civilizational turn there is a new form of inequality taking birth. It seems that inequality cannot be totally eliminated. Only it can be reduced. Different ideologies popped up to destroy inequalities and create egalitarian society. Alas! None survived except inequality.


International, intra-national, class, gender, language, race, caste, religious inequalities are some of the old forms. Technological inequality is one of the latest. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were formulated by United Nations and signed by the world nations to stop the fast pace of inequality. Statistics show the stagnation in the goals. Many of the underdeveloped countries especially in Sub Sahara are going down further. An observation of the living standards of common people reveals the inevitable nature of inequality.


A family was dreaming to chase their neighbhours in social status. Few years back they were without television set, camera, telephone and other consumer durables. After a long struggle somehow they managed to procure a 21 inch colour television set worth of Rs. 10, 000, Kodak camera costing Rs.1000, a cell phone costing thousand rupees and a fridge in the range of Rs.8000. But the consumer products are innovated and marketed in new form every day. His neighbhour now got LCD television which costs Rs.1.2 lakh, digital camera worth Rs.15,000, apple iphone costing Rs.35,000 and latest fridge costing Rs.60,000. The day dream of chasing the neighbhour’s status got crushed by the fasting moving consumer world.


A man walking on the street was envious of the one who was raiding a cycle and he was envied by another man who cannot walk. The cyclist was grumbling against the motorist who fumbled against the car owner. Maruti 800 possessor was biting his teeth against the Honda City owner who in turn was grudging against the BMW owner. The Gandhian saying “World has got for everyone’s need not for greed” is relevant now than ever before. Unmindful racing of consumer products is damaging not only mental but also environmental spaces.


Karl Marx is one of the revolutionary thinkers who thundered against inequality. For him the society is a constant clash between property owners and labour class. To eliminate inequality Marx advocated the transformation from capitalism to socialism to communism. Russia was the first nation to embrace Marxian philosophy and became a communist country in 1917. In eight decades time the first communist country was torn into pieces. It was followed by east European nations.


India is a mixed economy where political socialism and economic capitalism are in a symbiotic relationship. Communism refused to take off beyond Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. After the Indian public refused to accepted communists for a larger role, they have embraced capitalism in practice. Buddadeb Bhattacharya the hardcore Marxist is the torchbearer of capitalism in Bengal. In the final analysis communism in theory and capitalism in practice is followed. For the past two decades India has been swept by capitalism of neo liberal kind. In this transformation there is an equal mix of rich and poor. One shining and the other suffering.


There is a growing list of millionaires in India. Mukesh and Anil Ambanis wealth is more than few states annual expenditure. Naked display of wealth breeds hatredness against them. Wealth creation is not bad but concentration in few hands is determinant to the long-term social interests. Some enlightened big earners allocate a share of their wealth for public cause. In the recent times, Warren Buffet has become a role model for corporate philanthropy.


In India, Tatas and Birlas have earned everyone’s blessings for their social responsibility. Their time tested giving is an inspiration for the generations of corporations. To bring down inequalities corporate sector devise systematic methods. Any adhoc programmes and policies will not be able to make any visible changes on the ground. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme ought to imbibe a time bound resulted oriented mechanism. Otherwise it becomes just a flavour of the month talk.


Inequality cannot be removed. It can only be reduced. The first step to minimize inequality is to take away greed mentality of the consumers. Today excess consumerism is the root cause of all evils. The society needs slow-down of ultra pace consumer culture. It cannot be controlled through mere pep talks and advertisements. A consolidated attempt is required to constantly influence people to buy for their needs rather than to equalize their status with others. Corporate companies are hyper active to induce consumer interests. Social leaders should work harder than corporate brains to control greedy consumerism.  


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