Except super rich, conditions continue to be harsh for all, with starvation, death and debt staring at them

Even as MSME enterprises are dying and working class faces financial annihilation, those few in upper most ranks have accumulated a huge wealth of $3.4 trillion, according to Boston Consulting group

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

Krishna Jha

In the deep shadows of the pandemic, society faces a divide, etched in blood. The vast sections of the masses, fighting the acute scarcity and steep rise in prices of essentials, also realise that the challenges are inherent in the system itself. To surmount them needs a struggle at the basics.

The French revolution in 1789 had started with a hike in taxes on loaves. The epoch-making change came only after miseries and the exploitation of the masses reached a quantitative saturation that was imperative for the qualitative change. People were burdened with unprecedented tax hike, rise in prices, and other interruptions in agrarian production. Starving and dying, they could not face another blow, and stood up to fight for justice.

Today, as people keep struggling to make two ends meet even as the pandemic looms around, they realise that unless all the suffering masses join together, the challenges cannot be met. The brutal deprivation, taking the toll from all sections of the society except the super rich, calls for unity of all the intermediary groups.

The middle class has almost joined those living in utter penury, making the ‘haves’ facing the milieu of ‘have nots’ directly. Society is entering a new stage, capitalism is leaving space for finance capital where investment and production is secondary and finance is primary. The conditions are harsh with starvation, death and finally debt.

Banks are no longer the judicious creditors. Usury, which was the practice earlier, has made a comeback. The rate of interest is going up in unison with greed.

Unhappy, suffocating masses in the society have nowhere left to breathe easily. Rise in inequality has always been there but there were various levels, based on earnings. According to available reports, since the pandemic, along with the unforeseen rise in the graph of the stock market, the economic realities have arrived at a frightening destination.

What rankles is the unprecedented growth of wealth. Even as major share of production has been receding, micro, small and medium level enterprises are dying, working class faces financial annihilation, those few in the upper most ranks have accumulated a huge wealth of $3.4 trillion, according to Boston Consulting group. The estimation was at par with the compounded annual growth rate for the five years before 2020.

In contrast to it, for those on the other side, even household savings are taking a hit. The Centre for Economic Data and Analysis at Ashoka University had studied the movement of gold, business and real estate and found that there were changes every year at a quarterly level, as these were sold by people to survive. According to CMIE data, it was found that the readings about these three categories demonstrate a steep downfall as there is nothing to rescue them except family savings.

The ugly omens were foretelling that economic recovery would be harder as rate of income data had started downward slide, even in pre- pandemic months. The savings gone would never be replenished. During a study by Tata Institute of Social Sciences of ‘M East Ward’ of Mumbai, one of the most impoverished parts of the metropolis, the average income of the inhabitants here has gone down at an unprecedented rate of 47 percent, almost half, and that is for those fortunate ones who have a job.

By May 28, urban unemployment rate was found to be 14.5 percent, rising from seven percent and to twelve percent during the second wave of the pandemic. There are also the self employed ones like dhaba and small shop owners, drivers and the daily wagers hit brutally, and 12.5 percent among them failed to find livelihood even after the unlocking last year.

According to CMIE data, there is no initiative to start new investments. The investments were down by 13 percent in June quarter itself as there was a bump in the previous quarter. Amidst all this, there has been a privatisation spree too of the public sector units. In fact, the public sector units received the hardest blow in this regard as they face a consistent process of disinvestment. So far as unemployment data is concerned, CMIE reports confirm that in the rural areas it was 10.63 in May while in June it was 8.75. The upward move came as suggested by mobile indicators and also power consumption. MGNREGA always works as a troubleshooter, as it did during the first COVID wave for the migrant workers. This time the employment generated was lowest in last three months.

Meanwhile, India has added 40 billionaires. Gautam Adani became the second richest man in Asia and comes among fourteen richest in the world. But that is not all. The Panama Papers have revealed Rs 20,000 crore in undeclared assets that has been identified till now, with more likely to tumble out soon.

The divide is getting deeper and wider with time.

(IPA Service)

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