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Recently a report on inequality in the world has been released by the global organization United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). Pointing to the dire consequences of inequality in this, it has been emphasized to create a new eco-social system. This report, released in October 2022, points to the growing inequality characteristic of the world. This report comes almost two years after the pandemic. In this era the global economy has been hit, which for the first time in several decades has pushed the whole world into extreme poverty. The report says that with the rise of democracy, economic liberalization and free markets, there has been wide disparity in both income and wealth. The situation today is the same as it was at the height of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. In many countries the situation is even worse. The report suggests that while the gap in basic living standards is narrowing for hundreds of millions of people, their needs to thrive in life are also changing. In the current era, new types of inequalities are taking root, mainly arising out of education, technology and climate change. If these groundshaking changes are not stopped in time, the risk of spreading a giant rift that the world has not seen since the Industrial Revolution will increase. According to the report, people are taking to the streets due to many reasons. Ticket prices, petrol prices, demands for political freedom, fairness and justice, etc. This is a new face of inequality and inequality is not beyond solutions.
According to the report, the Human Development Index (HDI) has seen impressive progress since 1990 and has benefited all sectors, including the least developed countries. The fastest economic growth was seen from 2000 to 2010, but since then this pace has slowed down. From 1990 to 2018, many countries have performed well in terms of human development. The number of countries with high human development has increased from 12 to 62, while the number of countries with low human development has decreased from 62 to 36. The report clarified that the challenge of inequality is not beyond solution and can be dealt with, but bringing inequality under control will not be easy if the current pattern continues. The report says that unequal distribution in education, health and standard of living affects the progress of the country. Several suggestions have been made in the report to improve the situation and deal with the growing problem of inequality. According to the report, inequality starts right from the time of birth. The gap between education and health intensifies and can continue until adulthood, so efforts and policies to ameliorate the situation must begin before or even before birth, with a focus on children’s education, health and well-being. Be nourished. Such investments should be continued especially at that stage of a person’s life when they are making money in the labor market. Policies just to increase the productivity of workers are not enough and other policies including anti-trust have to be focused to overcome the imbalance in the market.
The report also suggested that the tax should be part of a broader policy system, including public spending on health and education, and exploring alternatives to carbon-based lifestyles. The report underscores the importance of new international tax principles to ensure equity and avoids the race to lower corporate tax rates. The report says that average figures often do not accurately reflect the truth. Furthermore, effectively tackling inequality requires detailed information, especially to combat the various dimensions of poverty and help those left behind. The report claimed that the nature of inequalities could change in the future and that the climate crisis could be a major reason for this. Carbon pricing policies can be mismanaged, but revenues from carbon pricing, if used for the benefit of taxpayers as part of a social policy package, will help reduce inequality. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, digital finance and health solutions demonstrate how new technologies and opportunities can be used to broadly improve living standards. According to the report, deep inequalities emerged even before the technological revolutions and now a similar picture is emerging with artificial intelligence and digital technologies. In such a situation, the need for social protection must be emphasized, which will require international consensus on ensuring fair compensation, investing in life-long learning and taxing digital activities. This will help in building a new, secure and stable digital economy, which will pave the way for human development. The report also indicates that if steps are not taken in this direction soon, then the situation will be very dire in the coming times and it will become difficult to deal with them.
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL
AMIT BAIJNATH GARG The writer is a Senior Journalist