Wealth inequality, class tension and a health crisis have led to unrest amidst this global pandemic. The murder of George Floyd has sparked protests fuelled by a combination of brutal policing. The pandemic has led to a loss of millions of jobs, and brought light to centuries of racial discrimination and economic inequality. So what has caused a relatively sharp increase in inequality over the last 20 years?
Several experts blame this on the increased penetration of technology and industrialisation. The argument is that technology is skill-based, and those who are able to use technology experience an increase in productivity and wages as compared to their less-skilled counterparts. A significant factor of inequality is because of a large number of labour force that works in sectors with low productivity.
One of the most pressing economic challenges of the world post-COVID-19 would be increasing income inequality. The pandemic tends to affect the poor section of the society disproportionately compared with the rich. It is the poorest section of society that will find it most challenging to access health care, more so in India, where out-of-pocket expenditure forms a bulk of our medical expense.
The crisis could even lead to a collective rethinking of how work and community are valued. Which jobs and voluntary activities are actually most crucial to society and how should they be rewarded? And how can we build on the spirit of community amidst the crisis to build better and more resilient communities, working across government sectors and business to strengthen infrastructure?
The country needs to work towards reducing the vast inequality in accessing education to prevent accentuating its social inequality in future. The economic unrest between the rich and poor can clearly be seen in the times of pandemic. The world is thus faced with such a prospect that the only difference a country can make is by providing social protection and safety net to prevent the regressive movement of people below the poverty line.