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Growing inequality corrodes social cohesion: VP Hamid Ansari
Speaking at the first edition of the three-day idea conclave of 'The Hindu' Newspaper - The Huddle 2017 - in Bengaluru on February 10, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari while recounting the perils of 'inequality' warned that the inequality was the number one risk because it is associated with a rise in populism and threatens the cohesiveness of countries.
"In developing economies like India and China, despite the fact that incomes have risen for many, inequality, in both wealth and income have also risen significantly," he said. 

According to Ansari, in India, 'the growing threat of left extremism, which has been repeatedly acknowledged as the gravest security threat to Indian state, has its roots in economic deprivation and inequality in access to resources'.

He suggested, "There is a need to revisit our commitment to investing in social goods. We have to move beyond seeing corporate social activity and government welfare schemes as merely minimum relief for the misery of the masses aimed mostly at neutralising the more aggressive antagonism of those who have lost income and wealth or those whose upward mobility seems permanently blocked." 

Here are some of the one-liners of the vice-president on inequality and equity.

  • While equality is the premise of citizenship, the latter by itself does not guarantee substantive equality.
  • Rising inequality is seen as a contributing cause for the rise of authoritarian leaders, often with a divisive agenda fuelled by sectarianism, xenophobia and nationalism.
  • Rising inequality can lead to conflict, both at social and at national level. 
  • New protest movements have broken out around the world, many arguably rooted in the burgeoning inequality.
  • Growing social inequality corrodes social cohesion and can destabilise states.
  • Inequality also breeds economic inefficiencies and limits productivity.
  • The concepts of justice and fairness are tied to the idea of equity in development. 

In the end of his address, Ansari raised some questions for the conclave to bring forth some answers.

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