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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2024

Parthasarathi Shome
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Summary

No fellow should be richer than another, no man should exploit another, each person has value and dignity.

Kenneth Kaunda, founding President of Zambia

Undertaking a study of the poor

The objective of this volume is to identify the sources of poverty and inequality in India, to draw instances from the global experience, to analyse their manifestations and ramifications and to explore solutions for eradicating poverty and alleviating inequality. Poverty is found not to be a condition for which subsidies and the provision of work would suffice. Global examples, including India, reveal that the genesis is more fundamental, more intrinsic, more embedded, indeed, generated by deliberate events that occurred and can be traced in recorded history. Those events separated some population groups from others through identifiable means and, sometimes, by imposing conditions by decree. Identifiable sources include enslavement, racial and gender differences, as well as discrimination against the indigenous, sexual minorities if identified, religions other than that of the majority and other differences. An example of non-identifiable means that stands out is caste determined at birth which is the particular case of the Indian subcontinent. There appears to be no universal scholarly agreement whether the establishment of caste came about from the segregation of an indigenous or settled population by an invading population, its extreme manifestation being the untouchability of one person by another.

After millennia of contiguous existence, there remains little physical difference among castes. Therefore, the prevailing practice of caste is ensured by identity markers such as surnames, birthplace, or assigned occupation (see Chapter 6). Similar instances occurred in history during periods of colonialism and slavery and post-abolition periods in other societies (see Chapter 5). In every case, the process that occurred and continues to occur comprises exclusion, isolation, domination and perpetration of social and economic differences. It leads naturally to inequality and to poverty by predetermining occupations, thus curtailing the freedom to choose a profession according to one's ability or desire. In turn, this gives rise to distortions in the natural choices that would be otherwise made by the members of a society. These distortions are found to be of varied intensities and tend to lead to a society's production outcomes that are well below its potential or what economists term the ‘production possibility frontier’.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Creation of Poverty and Inequality in India
Exclusion, Isolation, Domination and Extraction
, pp. 1 - 32
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Introduction
  • Parthasarathi Shome, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: The Creation of Poverty and Inequality in India
  • Online publication: 18 January 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529230406.002
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  • Introduction
  • Parthasarathi Shome, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: The Creation of Poverty and Inequality in India
  • Online publication: 18 January 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529230406.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Parthasarathi Shome, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: The Creation of Poverty and Inequality in India
  • Online publication: 18 January 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529230406.002
Available formats
×