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

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Evolving Inequalities

Evolving Inequalities

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The World Social Report 2020 reiterates the cautionary message of 2005 regarding rising inequalities being the deterrent in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 10 emphasising on reducing inequalities within and between countries has brought to the fore the idea of “no one should be left behind.” Inequality is primarily assessed in the income domain, wherein it is observed to be rising in developed nations as well. In fact, rising inequality is seen in more than two-thirds of the world’s population, barring a few countries in Latin America and Africa where a decline has been noticed. The global scene of inequality conveys that the share of income going to the top 1% of individuals is on a rise, which was witnessed in 46 out of 57 countries between 1995 and 2015. At the same time, the bottom 40% of the population share 25% of incomes in 92 countries. This apparent imbalance is growing over time despite its recognition in policy circles and suggestive interventions to arrest the same. The evolving inequalities worldwide have their genesis in technological innovation, climate change, urbanisation and international migration. While technological innovation serves as an engine of growth offering new possibilities in education, healthcare, communication and raising productivity at large, it has its flip side in displacing workforce and giving rise to wage differences. Urbanisation offers informal job opportunities to a displaced and distressed workforce, but it also manifests poverty and affluence in close proximity and compromises on basics of human living with a rising number of slums. Threat of climate change is undoubtedly disproportionate among those depending on nature for a living like rainfed agriculture, forest produce as well as without the required resilience to withstand the vagaries of nature. Finally, international migration, ideally meant to be a balancer of the human-resource imbalance across world regions and make capital and labour mobility in tandem, does not seem to offer an equal opportunity to all. In fact, migration too is emerging as a divider in favour of the haves than have nots not merely in terms of resources but also in terms of attributes that ensure safe and successful migration.

Given the four inducing factors behind rising inequalities, there is a need to address the adversities of all these dimensions. Digital divide is perhaps the new emerging space of inequality, which not only ends with spread and diffusion but also adaptability that would vary across generations. The intra-national divide of digital literacy is still wide and its characteristic features offer an alarming divide that may need special focus to avoid a large population from being left behind. An experienced account of such digital divide comes to light when digital education was experimented during the pandemic in countries that otherwise claimed to be digitally affluent. Hence, the solution lies in skilling and enabling workers to adapt to the changing work environment with digital dependence.

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