As billionaires are sprouting by the dozen even in communist China, Russia and India, the ever relevant issue of rich-poor divide is crying more for attention. If ignored, it can derail & make a mockery of sterling economic growth indicators; the larger society, the poor, has a basic right to share in the progress.
The Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, is on the rise in poorer countries, showing that there is unsustainable increase in the inequality & less inclusive growth to benefit the general populace. It is logical that the rich gets better opportunities to grow their riches faster than the poor; with their connections, ability to take the opportunities that seek them out or what others baulk at. They also have the staying & bargaining powers to get better deals. But any lopsided development by leaving out the poor on the lurch will recoil on the society & the rich, sooner or later. The resources of the land should belong to its people & shared equitably. China is supposed to have almost 100% of rare earth minerals needed for hybrid batteries & electronic gadgets; such precious national treasures should not end up with a privileged few.
All countries have to grapple with sustainable development models, with enough safety nets for the vulnerable in society. Globalization has resulted in manufacturing going wherever the goods are made the cheapest; this has dealt a blow to developed countries, leading to high unemployment, with welfare & pension systems under pressure. Having forced globalization down some reluctant throats, they have to face the music with poorer countries able to export their products at cheaper prices! The result is impoverishment of richer countries, but they have better social security nets to lessen the impact on the poor.
Though China, India and others have benefited from global trade in goods & services, these have not percolated to their poor. Of course, blind & forced redistribution of wealth will act as a dampener for risk taking initiatives. But the vulnerable in society have to be taken care of; a basic, moral duty of governments & the better-off in community. The root cause of communism was the poor & disadvantaged were ignored, without any means for them to make a living.
China being top-down, with no democratic credentials, is able to enforce their policies without having to face elections, unlike democratic countries. But the undertone of discontent is palpable, as the poor are evicted from their lands with minimum compensation & the land sold to the rich for development purposes, making them richer; some die-hard erstwhile communists will turn in their graves! India is still grappling with perennial land acquisition issues that put breaks on infrastructure developments, with some fishing in the murky waters to take advantage of the lack of resolve & transparency in the whole process.
Development has to be holistic, with accepted norms duly endorsed by major political parties, so that whoever is in power gets the mandate. The process has to benefit the poor more than the rich, especially when land is acquired forcibly. For democracies to flourish all should feel part of the development process & enjoy the benefits. Of course, these are new ball games for nascent democracies, mainly from agrarian economies into the wide world of world trade & exposed to the vicissitudes of international trade & politics; which are sometimes, trickier than the weather they had to rely on for their livelihood. But in this mad rush & herd instincts for survival, all roads lead to Rome; but all should have a fair chance in winning the race than some getting head-starts, without intrinsic merit. Not only democracies but the so called communist countries like China, Russia have to watch their steps, so that the Gini Coefficient is within tolerable limits; but need not reach zero level to please the die-hard communists; making those who work & those who shake their legs all their life, entitled to the same rewards!