ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Monstrous Indian Income Inequality

There is a dire need to rise above the empirical level in explaining income inequality.

The monstrous inequalities of capitalism in India have been plain for all to see, but now, the celebrated author of Capital in the Twenty-first Century, Thomas Piketty, and his colleague Lucas Chancel at the World Inequality Lab, Paris School of Economics, have provided the numbers, at least as far as incomes are concerned. Their working paper “Indian Income Inequality, 1922–2014” is provocatively subtitled “From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?”—arousing Indian academic economists from their stupor on such matters, and goading journalists to think aloud.

According to the Chancel–Piketty paper, India has emerged as the country that has recorded the highest increase in the share of the top 1% in national income over the past three decades, from 6.2% in 1982–83 to 21.7% in 2013–14. Indeed, the latter figure is the highest level recorded since the establishment of income tax in 1922, overtaking the British Raj’s record of the share of the top 1% in national income, which was 20.7% in 1939–40.

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Updated On : 6th Oct, 2017

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