When we talk of inequality, we generally focus on outcomes, i.e. income inequality, or wealth inequality. However, we need to look at inequality in a wider perspective. The most terrible inequality is the inequality of opportunity.
Education is one such field. We see quite a number of different education system here. The opulent part of the urban population enjoy an education system quite different from the system available in the rural areas where infrastructure and other facilities are limited leaving a big gap between rural educated section and their urban counterparts.
There is huge inequality of opportunity in health sector. Health services in urban and rural areas vary formidably.
The inequality of opportunity give way to inequality of outcomes, resulting in a chasm in wealth and income.
However, we tend to overlook the problem of opportunity gap and focus only in inequality of outcomes.
We often boast the decline of poverty in our country, which in way is okay. There was a time when we used to think that poverty and inequality move in the same direction, which doesn't hold true anymore. Inequality is on the rise in China and India despite having a downward curve of poverty.
Everyone speaks of introducing policies and regulations when it comes to reducing inequality. They propose a redistribution of wealth in the way of taxation. In my view, these only serves as medication, without much efficacy, when the ailment has spread. We need to have prevention strategies. When we have got rid of inequality of opportunity, we can have a society less prone to unequal income. This is a preemptive step.
We desperately need to build a uniform general education system, which ensures an equal opportunity of getting educated. We need to introduce policies for that. We need to close the gap in health-care system. We should get rid of urban-centered, capital-driven policies.
Dr. Selim Jahan, Director of UNDP's Human Development Report Office