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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Lalu Prasad flags caste-wise wealth gap data, links rising inequality to BJP policies

Lalu quoted a working paper by World Inequality Lab (WIL) which states that the general category castes have 88.4 per cent share in the nation’s wealth while the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have just 9 per cent and the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) have just 2.6 per cent share

Dev Raj Patna Published 17.06.24, 05:55 AM
Lalu Prasad.

Lalu Prasad. File picture

RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Sunday attacked the BJP by highlighting the dwindling share of OBCs in the nation’s wealth, a decline in small and medium enterprises, and farmers getting a raw deal because of the wrong policies of the Centre.

Lalu also flagged the caste-wise inequality in the country by quoting a working paper by World Inequality Lab (WIL) which states that the general category castes have 88.4 per cent share in the nation’s wealth while the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have just 9 per cent and the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) have just 2.6 per cent share.

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“The share of the OBCs in the total wealth of the nation decreased from 17.3 per cent in 2013 to 9 per cent in 2022. Small and medium enterprises are decreasing continuously. Agriculture is becoming a loss-making venture and farmers have been left devastated because of the faulty policies of the Centre,” Lalu said in a statement.

“The figures show how deep the roots of socio-economic inequality run in our country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has continuously targeted the small businesses of OBCs, SCs and STs over the past 10 years to destroy them,” Lalu added.

Terming the data shared in the WIL report as “fearsome”, the former Bihar chief minister asserted that the figures revealed “increasing socio-economic inequality in the country.”

“It is known that the OBCs, SCs and STs constitute 85 per cent of the population. This is the reason why the BJP does not want to conduct a caste census because then it will have to highlight the affluent people in every sector,” Lalu said.

The RJD chief added that the inequality would keep widening till the OBCs, SCs, STs and the poor from the general category castes remain devoted to the BJP and “accept those, who indulge in bigotry and sow hatred, as their leaders”.

“Such people (read BJP) have trapped the OBCs, SCs and STs in fake issues such as religion and nationalism to strengthen their own socio-political-economic power. They just give symbolic representation to these categories so that the majority population in the country does not demand their rights,” Lalu said.

The WIL report, co-authored by economists and researchers Thomas Piketty, Nitin Kumar Bharti, Lucas Chancel and Anmol Somanchi, was released in mid-March but couldn’t grab national attention because of the Lok Sabha hullabaloo.

Lalu’s statement comes right after his party fared poorly in the general elections by winning just four of the 23 seats it contested in Bihar. He and several members of his family have been recently charge-sheeted in the alleged “land-for-jobs” scam in the railways, which allegedly occurred during his tenure as the Union railway minister between 2004 and 2009. Lalu is currently out on bail in the fodder scam cases.

WIL is a Paris-based research centre that focuses on global inequality dynamics and works in close coordination with a network of researchers spread across the globe.

The working paper, titled “Billionaire Raj”, claimed that India was now more unequal than it was during the British Raj. It stated that the income and wealth share of the top one per cent population of the country was 22.6 per cent and 40.1 per cent in 2022 and 2023 respectively and were at historically highest levels.

The paper also sheds light on the level of disparity among different income groups in the country and recommends policy measures to address inequality.

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