In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. – Confucius
There is an eternal truth, one with which Einstein, Newton, Hawking and even Aryabhatta would agree; numbers don’t lie. They don’t lie because human emotions never come into the equation. Thus, numbers are a ruthless representation of the truth, ruthless because the truth depicts a rather grim reality.
India is home to a population of 1.2 billion out of which 269.8 million were below poverty line for the period 2011-2012(Number of Poor Estimated from Expert Group (Tendulkar Methodology)). Uttar Pradesh had the highest population below poverty line at 535.73 lakhs.
1/3rd of the world’s hungry reside in India and over 25 lakh Indians die every year from hunger. More Indians have died from hunger in the past decade alone then the total number of people who died in World War I. India has an undernourished population of 212 million.
There is an estimated population of somewhere between a 100 million and 1 billion individuals that are homeless (2011 census). The value of human life is deteriorating even as the cost of survival in the form of food and medical aid skyrockets.
According to a study carried out by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) a few years back, nearly 836 million people, which constitutes roughly 1/3rd of the Indian population, live on less than Rs 20 per day.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the monetary fence; there are approximately 14,800 multimillionaires residing in India who account for only 0.00123333333% of India’s population. Even then the top 1% holds close to half of the country’s wealth leaving 1/4th of the total wealth to the remaining 9% of the top 10%; which further leaves the remaining 90% also with only 1/4th of the total wealth.
Mumbai in itself is home to not only the most number of multimillionaires in any city in India at 2700 but also approximately 90 lakh Mumbai residents living in slums. Dharvi, home to somewhere between 300000 and 1 million people, is the largest slum in Asia.
Economic disparity is just as visible among the various states of India. According to a list compiled from the Annual Report of Reserve Bank of India published in 2013, Goa ranks the best with the least poverty at 5.09% and Chhattisgarh the worst with 39.93% of people below poverty line (report based on MRP consumption).
Chanakya, in his Arthashastra, states that, “the king shall not act in such a manner as would causes impoverishment, greed or disaffection among the people; if however, they do appear, he shall immediately take remedial measures.” The ugly truth is that this economic gap will not be filled at the end of this year or even this decade. India is not the only country which suffers from the problem of economic disparity; it’s a problem that plagues the entire human race. The richest one percent of this world hold nearly half the world’s wealth where as the bottom half of the global population owns less than 1% of the total wealth, which begs the question – Is everyone born equal and if so where did we go so wrong that some people’s dogs are fed better than a third of the world’s human population?