Patna, November 05, 2017: Former Foreign Secretary of India Muchkund Dubey on Saturday said that India is ranked fourth in number of billionaires, yet it has the largest number of malnourished children and of child labours.
Mr Dubey said that corporate and private sector-led growth can never be a solution for India’s alarming inequality problem.
Delivering the First Syed Shahabuddin Memorial Lecture in Patna he said Shahab (as he addressed him) was a prominent diplomat and politician of India.
Presiding over the occasion, former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari said that inclusive growth is not an option but it is indispensable for the country.
Mr Dubey, who was the keynote speaker, said that inclusive growth is not limited to eradication of poverty; it is not merely about economic growth, but it is a broad subject as social aspect is also interwoven into it. It is about equal opportunity with level playing field for all.
He said that while at the time of independence experts like Visvesvaraya had advised to adopt model which had education at its core but it was largely ignored in planning though the importance of education in tackling inequality is evident.
“In the post-liberalization years those whose initial conditions were good, who were educated, skilled and belonged to organised sector were benefited by high economic growth rate; while poor, unskilled and those whose initial conditions were not good further plunged into poverty,” Dubey said.
He mentioned Thomas Piketty’s work which has pointed out that before 1980, inequality in India was low as the market was within the hold of government, but after liberalisation as growth rate climbed up, so did inequality. The income of top 1% increased from 6% in 1980 to 22 % in 2012.
He suggested an option to tackle the mounting challenge and named it two-point programme: universalise education and develop adequate infrastructure of primary health care in the country. He said that it must be done by the government by its own fund, resources and on the strength of its organisation.
Dubey recalled his 67 years long association with Shahab–from matriculation in 1950 to days in Patna University and Indian Foreign Service.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar also attended the programme but, in spite of repeated requests, preferred to sit with audience on the first row. He even declined to speak on the occasion.
The function was conducted by Iqbal Ahmad of BBC Hindi Service while Parveen Amanullah, the eldest daughter of Syed Shahabuddin, welcomed the guests.