December 27, 2007
Written by C.N.
It’s a well-documented phenomenon that wherever capitalism spreads and grows, it brings rising class inequality with it, as it makes a very small group of people very rich while keeping the vast majority of a country’s population poor or working-class. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, this process is now becoming evident in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India:
Since February 2007, the value of India’s stock market has doubled to 20000 points, and the biggest winners have been India’s richest. Based on these gains, India’s four wealthiest men are now worth more than China’s 40 wealthiest combined. . . .
The top-heavy distribution of India’s stock-market billions is further amplifying the extremes of rich and poor in a country where an estimated 400 million people – more than the population of the United States – live on less than $1 a day. . . .
It is partly the legacy of out-of-date laws governing stock offerings. . . When going public, India’s largest companies need to make only 10 percent of their stock available to the public. Other Asian neighbors, such as Thailand and Malaysia, usually force a company to make available 25 to 40 percent of its stock. . . .
[As a result,] only 3 million Indians – from a working-age population of 321 million – hold stocks. A further 3.5 million hold stocks through mutual funds. The numbers are small, and the money invested is also modest.
As most people should know by now, India can indeed by a land of extremes — success and riches for some, grinding poverty and subsistence for many others.
Nonetheless, since India is still in the relatively early stages of global capitalist expansion and development, my hope is that there is still time for India to put into place measures that will help alleviate or even mitigate some of these inequalities before they get extreme.
Developing countries like India have the opportunity to forge a new model of capitalism for the rest of the world — one in which hard work and monetary riches can coexist with equality of opportunity for all social classes.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Class Inequality Growing in India" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/12/class-inequality-growing-in-india/> ().
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