The Sustainable Development Goal # 10
To ensure that the income growth of the bottom 40% of the population is higher than the national average by the year 2030.
The Goal also states to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic and other statuses.
Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.
India Is A Highly Unequal Country
According to a report by the Johannesburg-based company New World Wealth, India is the second-most unequal country globally, with millionaires controlling 54% of its wealth. With a total individual wealth of $5,600 billion, it’s among the 10 richest countries in the world – and yet the average Indian is relatively poor.
Compare this with Japan, the most equal country in the world, where according to the report millionaires control only 22% of total wealth.
In India, the richest 1% own 53% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data from Credit Suisse. The richest 5% own 68.6%, while the top 10% have 76.3%. At the other end of the pyramid, the poorer half jostles for a mere 4.1% of national wealth.
Our documentary project economyforall, aims to seek answers to questions related to the nature of inequality in India and if social entrepreneurship can be the equalizing force by reaching out to several entrepreneurs, investors, academicians, journalists and professionals across the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Lack of basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, education, sanitation and energy creates massive hurdles in developing the physical and mental well-being of people from the BoP. This severely affects their capacity to compete and lead a productive life. Pranil Naik, in a chat for #economyforall, explained why children from BoP lag behind with respect to their urban counterparts.
“Mothers from rural areas do not receive the same care and nutrition that expectant mothers from urban areas do, depriving the newborns with the nutrition they need to develop their basic physical abilities, mental health, intelligence and resistance power. Paucity of ample water, sanitation and clean energy rob the people of the ability to live a dignified life. They rob them of harnessing the opportunities that could enrich their lives”.
The disparity in quality of education between BoP and the more fortunate children is one of the primary reasons of birth of inequality which further accentuates as the children grow up. Lack of a level playing between children from different backgrounds denies them access to equal opportunities for their overall development. In an interview to us, Santosh Phad, Founder, ThinkSharp Foundation said this:
“If we compare the rural education with the urban education, we can see the huge gap we can fulfill by providing quality of education to the rural part of our country. So there is a huge difference of this infrastructure, there is a difference of the quality of the curriculum, there is a difference of the quality of the teachers and that is the huge problem, huge inequality when we talk about the education, as a whole in our country”.
Here’s another perspective from Mansi Agarwal, CEO, Upskill that directly points to one of the major reasons contributing towards inequality.
“It is very interesting that India has the demographic dividend on its side in the sense that almost 64% of India’s population is youth is 18 to 35 years of age. But most of these people are unskilled people. There’s only 2% of this 64% population that is skilled which means that most of these people, the balance 62% are not in a position to go and find jobs for themselves that can give them employability or can constructively contribute to the economy”.
How Can Social Entrepreneurship Mitigate The Effects Of Inequality?
People from BoP will not benefit from momentary acts of help. They need something that will create an equitable and sustainable future. While speaking to us, Raj Bordia, Advisory Board Member, Hult Prize India said,
“Social entrepreneurship can solve this problem because they focus on increasing the size of the pie instead of boosting their share of the pie. They make new markets. They make solutions cheaper so that people from BoP can access it. They are all about making things effective and sustainable and not just cheaper”.
Social entrepreneurs can help reduce inequality through positive interventions like creating alternate forms of energy that is clean and affordable, providing sustainable livelihoods, facilitating better healthcare and sanitation facilities, providing increased access to potable water and above all, offering equal opportunities in education. Some of the prominent changemaker organisations like Oorja, Nanohealth, Hasiru Dala, Vat Vrikshya are trying to bridge this gap of inequality by creating disruption at grass root levels.
Dr. Anant Sardeshmukh, Director General of MCCIA, Pune, supports our hypothesis. He says,
“Creation of entrepreneurship and for-profit social entrepreneurship can solve this problem. Anything which can create more jobs and opportunities is good.”
There are myriad factors that create socioeconomic inequality in a large country like India. If we as a nation have to achieve SDG # 10 that focuses on reducing inequality we need to transition large masses of people out of poverty towards better opportunities and ultimately a better life. Social entrepreneurship can be a game changer.