Wealth Inequality Spirals as Billionaires' Influence Grows, Warns Ex-Official

A former senior Indian civil servant has raised alarm over the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few billionaires due to neo-liberal economic policies, warning it could lead to more conflicts worldwide.

In a strongly-worded statement, V.S. Pandey, a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, said the "unbridled greed" of the rich has severely skewed wealth distribution, leaving billions impoverished while a handful own nearly all assets globally.

"If the current neo-liberal economic policies are allowed to have free run due to the overarching influence of billionaires, we will witness many more conflicts and wars in the coming years," Pandey cautioned.

He argued that money now "brazenly flaunts its humungous power" and "the world is being engulfed by its blatant clout." Governments have ceded control to markets and wealthy individuals who can manipulate money flows through speculation, he added.

Pandey lamented that excessive technology use, which is capital-intensive by nature, is exacerbating inequality between the haves and have-nots in the U.S., India and elsewhere. While living standards have improved for some, poverty and deprivation are also widespread, he noted.

Citing the International Labor Organization, the former bureaucrat warned that "poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere." He called for undoing past mistakes to build a more equitable world, drawing on Mahatma Gandhi's ideas about addressing inequality.

"We must abandon this 'speculative' economic model," Pandey urged, quoting Gandhi's 1931 comments that "essential equality" cannot be missed even if inequalities exist.

Critics, however, argue that capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty worldwide through economic growth. They contend policies enabling free markets and protecting property rights are vital for development and prosperity.

The concerns over wealth concentration come as studies show the share of global wealth of the world's richest has risen in recent decades, even after the Covid-19 pandemic briefly slowed the trend.

(This article is written by - V.S. Pandey, A former senior Indian civil servant)


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