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To end income inequality, rich must pay higher taxes: Piketty


Jaipur: To strive towards ending income inequality, it is imperative the tax structure be reformed to raise the tax to GDP ratio, which would also entail the world’s rich agreeing to higher taxes, including in India, says renowned French economist Thomas Piketty.

He also advised India not to depend much on foreign inflows and shift from caste-based reservations to those based on income for creation of equal opportunity, needed for an equal society.

Noting that tax structure was one of the great drivers of inequality in an economy, Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics and at the London School of Economics’ new International Inequalities Institute, said it must “undergo real reformation” so that the tax to GDP ratio increases.

In order for income inequality to end, it was essential that the world’s rich agreed to pay higher taxes, including in India.

Indian elites have to accept that they have to pay higher taxes, he said at a session titled “Capital” at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

This would allow more money to enter the government treasury, and be re-invested in public welfare, such as education and health services that everyone could access, leading to a “redistribution of wealth”, said Piketty, the author of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, a seminal work on the global dynamics of income and wealth distribution, including those leading to such inequality.

US writer and journalist Sebastian Mallaby agreed with him on the benefit of more money flowing into the government treasury for utilization on public welfare goals, noting that lack of schooling and health care reduced the potential for growth in an economy, because without these basic goods, a person cannot find employment and so no income can be generated.

Piketty also sounded a note of caution regarding foreign capital, holding no economy should become “too dependent” on capital inflows from other countries, as this could could lead to public debt to foreign governments, which could later be exploited for political gain

Piketty also stressed the need for the “democratization of economic knowledge” which, in his view, would result in “democratization of the economy”, a crucial step towards ending inequality.

“More transparency of information was needed if the general public was to bridge the existing information asymmetry,” he said.

Mallaby, the Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations also concurred here, as “knowledge of financial markets and access to investment opportunities would bring increased returns on people’s financial resources, which they could then re-invest, creating a virtuous circle for the economy”

India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, who was also participating in the session moderated by academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta, observed that in the last few years, poorer countries like India have started to catch up with richer nations like America, in terms of the growth rates of their national incomes, but as far as India was concerned, it was not just income inequality that needed to be considered, but other concerns such as historical caste and class-based inequality.

Piketty agreed, highlighting the need for change in the parameters for reservations in governmental institutions, from being caste-based to being income-based to help create equal opportunity, essential for an equal society, while there must be equal access to education and employment too. (Vikas Datta, IANS)(Photo:

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Attention Readers! Here are Five Books to Look Forward to in November 2017

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from "Finding my Virginity," by Richard Branson to "The Bhojpuri Kitchen," by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

Looking for books to read in November? We have got you covered! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 30, 2017 : With the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize – the two most coveted literary honors – having been awarded earlier in October, the literary season has indeed set in.

Two literature festivals have just concluded in the national capital. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced in about two weeks, while the Jaipur Literature Festival is also round the corner. What better time for publishing houses to release the most-awaited books of the year?

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from “Finding my Virginity,” by Richard Branson to “The Bhojpuri Kitchen,” by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

Here are five books we can’t wait to read this November

1. “The Book of Chocolate Saints” by Jeet Thayil (Aleph)

One of the most-awaited literary books of the year by Jeet Thayil, a past winner of the DSC prize, the Sahitya Akademi Award and a finalist of the Man Booker Prize. In incandescent prose, Thayil tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, blocked poet, serial seducer of young women, reformed alcoholic (but only just), philosopher, recluse, all-round wild man and India’s greatest living painter. At the age of 66, Xavier, who has been living in New York, is getting ready to return to the land of his birth to stage one final show of his work (accompanied by a mad bacchanal). Narrated in a huge variety of voices and styles, all of which blend seamlessly into a novel of remarkable accomplishment, “The Book of Chocolate Saints” is the sort of literary masterpiece that only comes along once in a very long time.

2. “Conflicts of Interest” by Sunita Narain (Penguin)

One of India’s foremost environmentalists, Sunita Narain gives a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s Green Movement. While outlining the enormous environmental challenges that India faces today, Narain says political interests often scuttle their effective resolution. She recounts some widely reported controversies triggered by research undertaken by her along with her team at the Centre for Science and Environment, such as the pesticides in colas report, air pollution research in Delhi and endosulfan research in Karnataka, among others. Narain also includes an ‘environmental manifesto’, a blueprint for the direction India must take if it is to deal with the exigencies of climate change and environmental degradation.

3. “Life among the Scorpions” by Jaya Jaitly (Rupa)

From arranging relief for victims of the 1984 Sikh riots, to joining politics under firebrand leader George Fernandes, to becoming president of the Samata Party — a key ally in the erstwhile NDA Government – Jaya Jaitly’s rise in Indian mainstream politics invited both awe and envy. All this even as she continued her parallel fight for the livelihood of craftsmen on the one hand, and conceptualised and ensured establishment of the first Dilli Haat in 1994, on the other. With all the backstories of major events in Indian politics between 1970 and 2000, including her experience of dealing with the Commission of Inquiry and courts regarding the Tehelka sting, the story of Jaya Jaitly makes for a riveting read. A powerful narrative on why being a woman in politics was for her akin to being surrounded by scorpions; this is one of the best books set for release and a hard hitting memoir that offers a perspective on the functioning of Indian politics from a woman’s point of view.

4. “Chase Your Dreams” by Sachin Tendulkar (Hachette India)

Why should adults have all the fun? In his career spanning 24 years, hardly any records have escaped Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly touch. Besides being the highest run scorer in Tests and ODIs, he also uniquely became the first and only batsman to score 100 international centuries and play 200 Tests. His proficient stroke-making is legendary, as is his ability to score runs in all parts of the field and all over the world. And Tendulkar has now come up with this uniquely special edition of his autobiography for young readers.

5. “China’s India War” by Bertil Lintner (Oxford University Press)

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 delivered a crushing defeat to India: not only did the country suffer a loss of lives and a heavy blow to its pride, the world began to see India as the provocateur of the war, with China ‘merely defending’ its territory. This perception that China was largely the innocent victim of Nehru’s hostile policies was put forth by journalist Neville Maxwell in his book “India’s China War,” which found readers in many opinion makers, including Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. For far too long, Maxwell’s narrative, which sees India as the aggressor and China as the victim, has held court. Nearly 50 years after Maxwell’s book, Bertil Lintner’s “China’s India War” puts the ‘border dispute’ into its rightful perspective. Lintner argues that China began planning the war as early as 1959 and proposes that it was merely a small move in the larger strategic game that China was playing to become a world player — one that it continues to play even today. (IANS)

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Saket Suman and was first published at IANS. Saket can be contacted at