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Economic stationariness and immobility : a gravest threat

Muneeb Ahmad Reshi

The world had overtly stimulated with a knee-jerk response to the pandemic of COVID-19 via
multi-faceted strategies somehow by imbibing authoritarian lineaments in leadership across the
world for the sake of containment of this dreadful novel pathogen as it spreads at an alarming
rate. It had crossed all the barriers of its transmission and bore upon people without
secernating their caste, colour, creed, sex, prosperity level and other different prevailing
prejudices in our civil society. But I personally cognize the parallel and grave threat, like COVID-
19, the world had been facing since times immemorial and is facing nowadays is the economic
immobility and its stagnation or we can say in other terms the possession of money with
fixedness in the hands of well-heeled people bound by their stingy clutches without any altruistic
fibre as displayed in the renowned movie viz. parasite. This Oscar-winning movie had conveyed
really a persuasive message about discrepancies of the prevailing system in haltering economic
immobility and spectre of economic stagnation aching the depressed classes bitterly. It implicitly
tried to reflect the issue that nowadays the economic mobility has become a new normal and
the presumptions that the world is interiorizing that somehow by infringement of govt. the
balanced system can be brought about, is all hypocrisy and absurd fantasy. In this movie actors’
the whole family is seen withstanding their existential crisis and portrayed as a dirt-poor family
barely grappling their two meals for a day. But somehow after acquiring a job of a driver in a
prosperous and affluent family, he manages to bring forth and align all his family for different
jobs thereby unfair means and lead rest of their lives as parasites. But one day when they smell
that their jobs are going to be lost, they vociferously attack their host family from which their
livelihood had sprung out because of their spectral pessimism and their susceptibility to the
vulnerability. The point is that the crimes are breeding because of the deep social divisions and
because of getting stuck in the deplorable cycle wherefrom the depressed section thinks
chances of coming out to be negligible.
In India, we are also sailing the same boat and suffering this social malaise since our
independence and had seasoned in the British era. The gap between the poor and rich people seems widening at a considerable rate rather than narrowing, the rich being growing alarmingly
and progressively and capital showing imperceptible mobility leaving impacts on the socio-political surface. Actually, these social divisions had widened and exacerbated mainly from the
onset of economic liberalization from which the capitalist class began prospering blisteringly
and poor people remained locked up in their roughshod circles. Economic liberalization came as
an impetus for driving all these differences and perpetuating the miseries of the lower class by
constraining them merely to fulfil their daily nourishment and pushing well off people to attain
higher degrees of prosperity and momentum. Economic immobility is of two types inter-generational and intra-generational. Government is somewhere showing failures to address this
immobility issue as demonstrated by the reports coming from different sources. According to
the Annual Wealth check report 2019 of Oxfam, the top 1% of India’s richest lot got richer by
39% as against just 3% increase in the wealth for the bottom half of the population. Moreover
the Gini Coefficient in India has gone up from 81.4% in 2008 to 84.4% in 2018, which shows that
inequality has climbed up considerably.
Economic Immobility and Inequality
Long term welfare effects of rising inequality depend wholly and solely on the level of economic
mobility. Economic mobility can attenuate the adverse effects of inequality. Holding other
factors fixed, an economy with much economic mobility- one in which households move more
freely throughout the income or consumption distribution will result in a more equitable
distribution of lifetime incomes and consumption than an economy with low mobility.
Hurdles in Economic Mobility in India
Studies find that for the population as a whole the mobility rate is remarkably low. This is due to
the widespread poverty. Widening inequality in income level has lowered the pace of economic
mobility in India in real terms. Around 70% of Indians live in rural areas with very limits and
uncertain economic opportunity. This limits the scope of their economic mobility. Education is
widely regarded as the most effective means of upward mobility. High illiteracy and low quality
of education among masses in India is a major hurdle in economic mobility. Muslims also have
the lowest economic mobility due to prevalent orthodoxy as well as limited access to
opportunity.
What can be done?
All of this issue requires energetic and enthusiastic multipronged approaches towards
the realization that this economic immobility and the vicious economic inequality need to be
addressed. And the government is the highest authority that has got the upper hand in dealing
with such issues. Firstly in order to minimize the inequalities, we should have the proper taxation
rules like progressive taxation where the tax rates are decided according to the income levels of
the people. This is the most effective way to siphon off the money from where it is in excess in
order to spend where it is needed, the poor. Proper implementation and investigations are
prerequisites to check tax evasions and curbing of the black money within the system. And the subsidization for the poor should be ensured with greater accountability and transparency. Pro-poor policies and plans should be framed and implemented in a transparent and efficient
manner to let deserving ones benefit from them. Also, minimizing the illiteracy should be the
prior motive in this regard. The poor people should be provided with opportunities and
incentivized to invest like the Self Help Groups and efforts are needed to extend such
opportunities across the lengths and breadths among these poor people. The small
manufacturing units of rural areas need more focus and should be promoted and revived
financially. This will lead to the employment generation at the local level which will prove to be
much instrumental in coping up with this immobility problem.
“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, the agony of toil,
slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation at the opposite pole.”
Karl Marx

(Author Pursuing B.A.(Hons) in Philosophy at Aligarh Muslim University
Can be reached at) [email protected]