[Solved] COVID-19 pandemic accelerated class inequalities and poverty in India. Comment. (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has played an important role in highlighting growing inequalities. It exposed the myth that everyone is in the same boat. While we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in superyachts, while others are clinging to the drifting debris. It is the ‘sharpest decline in per capita income’ since 1870.

 The impacts of the global economic collapse have indeed trickled faster to the poor. Oxfam’s Inequality Virus Report has estimated that there are 121 million more people on the brink of starvation today due to mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies.

“As many as 12,000 people could die every day from COVID-linked hunger,” declared Oxfam. The geography of hunger, class inequality and poverty, however, remains the same as it was before the pandemic. India, other Asian countries and Africa are the worst affected regions

Inequality was high and social and political structures in many parts of the world became unstable before the outbreak. According to a 2019 Oxfam report, the richest 1% of India owns 51.53% of India’s national wealth, with the remaining 99% owning almost 48%. The epidemic has greatly widened existing inequalities in India and around the world.

The world is going up against one of the most exceedingly awful pandemics ever. At first, the lone methods accessible to manage the present circumstance was a condition of disengagement or establishing confined admittance called lockdown as an outright safety effort, whose long shadows infer that

 There are individuals who can’t be home-stayers with regards to jobs viz.

  • traveler laborers
  • gig economy laborers
  • organic product and vegetable road merchants
  • day by day workers and others.

The CMIE approximates work misfortunes of around 140 million individuals at that point.

  • According to the ILO, more than 400 million individuals hazard sliding into destitution, as they are compelled to rely upon casual work.
  • The World Bank assesses that this pandemic will push an extra 88 million to 115 million individuals into outrageous destitution with the complete ascending to around 150 million by 2021 where the new poor would be in nations previously having high neediness rates.
  • Even not 33% of absolute schoolgoers could get to online instruction. The class disparity uncovers the profound computerized partition.
  • Women contrarily affected by class are confronting expanding savagery and battling against imbalances.
  • As class imbalances augment, the differential classes with the most minimal admittance to monetary fortifying data sources get added to outrageous neediness.


Accelerated class inequalities and poverty in India

Jobs and livelihood loss

  • There are people who can’t stay home when it comes to livelihoods likemigrant workers, gig economy workers and fruit & vegetable street vendors, daily wage earners and others.
  • Their income is affected by the pandemic, while the rich could still Work from Home (WFH) or simply put money in the share market and earn.
  • Migrant workers were forced to run home, pandemic led to a reduction of income upto 86 per cent among them.

Debt trap due to out of pocket spending in catastrophic medical expenditure

  • Pandemic has forced people in debt trap and distress asset sale, death of the breadwinner in many families has driven them to destitution

Loss of learning

  • While rich kids are learning online, the poor are left without learning in the last two sessions as state capacity is low in providing digital education. The class inequality reveals the deep digital divide.
  • Particular vulnerable are girl child whose opportunities have drastically reduced leading to more burden of Household work, and child marriage in poor and rural areas
  • Loss of learning and nutrition to poor children pushes them deep into a vicious cycle of poverty fuelling future inequality.

Gendered perspective:

Women negatively influenced by class are facing increasing violence and struggling against inequalities.


Demand-based Work under MGNREGA, PM Garib Kalyan Yojna is supposed to provide respite to people, however, the government must ensure through the welfare system and fiscal stimulus that livelihoods and dignity of the poor are not further affected. The USA is looking to increase corporate taxation to overcome the deficit during a pandemic and support the poor, India must follow. We can also give serious thought to inheritance tax for the rich to bring equality after a pandemic.

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