Global rich, poor divide has pushed humanity to disaster




The current neo liberal economic policies have allowed free run due to the overarching influence of billionaires. The unbridled greed of the rich and powerful to accumulate more and more has already skewed the wealth distribution amongst masses to such an extent that now a handful of people own almost all assets leaving almost nothing for the teeming billions across the globe, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey



Money is now brazenly flaunting its humungous power. The world is   being engulfed by its blatant clout. In the name of connecting people and global-local, we the people, have been robbed of our precious freedoms. The public is encouraged to chat, upload, mindlessly consume information and sing to the tune of others. We are in the heyday of the so-called Information age. There are a select few who now exercise Orwellian control on the information disseminated  and decide and direct what and how much information will reach the masses .

The so-called information provided is  carefully and sinisterly filtered at various levels. What finally reaches the masses in the name of information is tragically apparent. The distinction between information and knowledge is now so blurred that people with ‘intelligent devices’ are swamped by the enormity of filtered information / conversations and develop the misplaced sense that they have acquired the requisite “knowledge” about every aspect of life. People need to be reminded that life is much more than markets, money, growth rate, glittering malls, material development etc. The totally distorted priorities set forth by most of the governments across the globe has already caused enough chaos and destruction.

The unbridled greed to prosper fast and accumulate even more wealth has led to many wars with loss of human lives crossing several millions over the past few centuries. This egregious greed is the crucial reason for the current spate of wars raging around the globe. If the current neo liberal economic policies are allowed to have free run due to the overarching influence of billionaires, we will witness many more conflicts and wars in the coming years. The unbridled greed of the rich and powerful to accumulate more and more has already skewed the wealth distribution amongst masses to such an extent that now a handful of people own almost all assets leaving almost nothing for the teeming billions across the globe.



The current economic culture has reached such extreme disparate levels that a few individuals have a higher net worth surpassing most nations budgets on this planet. However, no government is even willing to take a look into this issue , and there are a very few ready to raise their voices  and force people in power to hear them and  reboot the economic and political system which has allowed this anomaly to continue for decades unchecked and unquestioned. John Rawls resonates -a theory however elegant …must be rejected or revised if it is untrue …likewise institutions …must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. 

 Justice should be the first virtue  of social institutions  not  money power. Undoubtedly, the  creation of wealth is to be welcomed and promoted but such unbridled accumulation of wealth is deleterious. Governments now are in no position to devise policies to protect the interest of its citizenry at large. Post  world war two and almost till the eighties- almost all the countries, particularly in Europe and North America ,witnessed sustained economic growth with public welfare agenda being salient. Things changed rapidly thereafter with neo liberal economic policies taking root across the world and demanding that markets should be allowed a free run and governments should get out of the business of regulating markets. Today its speculation that dominates, and the monied are busy multiplying money by speculating. Those not well off  are doomed to lose in this rat race. In the name of prudent  economic policies, money bags have been given unfettered freedom to manipulate money markets

The world today is being enslaved by excessive use of technology which is in turn heavily capital intensive. By its sheer nature, technology is bound to lead to aggravating the divide between haves and have nots. The level of inequality prevailing today in US, India and many others should shake those  responsible for this yawning chasm. While there has been a marked improvement over the years in the living standards of a sizeable chunk of the population across the globe, but it has been accompanied by increased prevalence of poverty and deprivation all around.

Aristotle had famously said -“Poverty is the mother of crime and revolution “ . Those heading  governments across the globe also need to heed the warning of the International Labour Organization’s Declaration of Philadelphia(1944)-“Poverty any where is threat to prosperity everywhere “. It is imperative to undo the mistakes committed in the past  and to make the world more equitable, just and humane.


The  problems of poverty, inequality and disparities faced by our society   were analyzed and dissected by Mahatma Gandhiji in great depth. He came up with very sound ideas to address these issues. He wrote in Young India in 1931 -“ Inequalities in intelligence and even opportunity will last till the end of time. A man living on the banks of a river has any day more opportunity of growing crops than one living in an arid desert. But if inequalities stare us in the face, the essential equality too is not to be missed.” This is  sound advice  which we have perilously ignored – at a tremendous cost to our society and nation . We must abandon this “speculative” economic model. 


(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary Government of India)


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