India needs a new social contract

The pandemic has dramatically laid bare the catastrophic public costs of inequality. Thousands of lives could have been saved if much greater investments had been made in public health provisioning. The explosion of mass hunger and joblessness and the dislocation of millions of working poor people could have been averted had labour protection, social security, and wage levels of workers been secured.

“Inequality Kills” is the apt title of a devastating report by Oxfam India released at the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos. For India’s super-rich, the pandemic became a time to swell their wealth dizzyingly. The worst year of the pandemic for India was 2021. In this year, the net wealth of just one Indian billionaire, Gautam Adani, multiplied eight times, from $8.9 billion in 2020 to $50.5 billion in 2021. The net worth of Mukesh Ambani doubled to $85.5 billion in 2021, rocketing him from India’s to Asia’s richest man. In fact, Ambani…

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