What does Delhi have to say about India's Inequality Problem?

What does Delhi have to say about India's Inequality Problem?

On 19th January, Oxfam India and prominent civil society organisations, as part of the international Fight Inequality Alliancejoined hands Smash Inequality. A bustling marketplace in East Delhi's Trilokpuri area was chosen as the platform to announce and galvanise the fight against inequality. From prominent voices from the civil society to popular music artists as well as local residents- traders, government employees, homemakers, students collectively raised their voice at the event 'Asamanta Bhagao- Smash Inequality'


Oxfam India spoke to local residents and people who had gathered to watch the event and lend their voice for the cause of fighting widespread inequality in the country. We tried to gauge the understanding of the concept of inequality in people's minds and the recommendations they had for fighting it. Here are a few voices that will enlighten and motivate you to join our cause to smash inequality from our society. 


See their riveting portraits and read what they had to say about inequality here:

inequality in india has reached unprecedented levels
Photo by Javed Sultan 

Name: Sukhma
Age: 80 years
Occupation: Homemaker 

“Hum toh Hamesha hee gareeb the. (We have always been a victim of poverty.)”
Sukhma was relocated from South Delhi's Kalkaji to East Delhi's Trilokpuri. “When Indira Gandhi gave us this land, we shifted from a pakka (permanent dwelling) house to this basti (low-income housing)” 

On Inequality: "Everyone should be equal, no one should be left behind, that’s how true development can take place. Rich people get married at big weddings with tents, eat nice food, and wear nice clothes but we don’t even have enough money to buy one decent meal. The government should make a law which makes poor and rich equal. One part of the society is throwing food and another is begging for it. This must end."

Widening gaps between the rich and poor in India
Photo: Javed Sultan 


Name: Sushila
Age: 54 years
Occupation: Homemaker

“Nobody makes us aware of our rights, that’s why we lag behind"
Sushila shifted to Trilokpuri 40 years back from Uttar Pradesh. She says her family has nothing to give except for hard work. They have been working for decades but in return got nothing. Since she was never enrolled in a school and never received a formal education, she feels doesn’t have the required knowledge to be successful. Sushila says that schools are much better now than before. However, children do not study enough to walk shoulder to shoulder with the rich educated people.

On Inequality: "The poor do not get jobs and that is why they get poorer. The basic issue with inequality revolves around the lifestyle, clothes and food. Maximum part of the society does not accept the less powerful (the poor) in their social circle. We are often judged by the way they dress which do not match the rich."
She believes the solution lies in the hands of the powerful and privileged section of society. "Only the educated and rich people, the ones who carry the knowledge to take the necessary steps, will end this gap. It is their responsibility to bring equality between us. The hope is young. The hope is you; you will bring the change in society.”


Only when people join together from the grassroots up, mobilising and organising to build power and demand accountability and greater equality, will things change.
Photo: Javed Sultan 

Name: Shankar Lal 
 Age: 84 years 
Occupation: Retired worker from Lajpat Nagar Water Pump Supply

“The 1% population which holds the 99% of wealth are less in number. The have nots are much more in number and therefore we should come together to remove inequality.”

Shankar Lal was highly inspired by the speech of Kamla Bhasin, a feminist. He has an energetic persona and is motivated to work for girl education and equal rights for women. He believes in the proper nurturing of girls in the family. He spoke about inequality as a ‘disease’ that is growing in society day by day. 

On Inequality: "The bias of people towards the lower class, the untouchables, the less privileged ruins the society."
Everyone is equal; he thinks every human should look onto another human with equal respect and love. 


Over 100 groups have got involved in the activities of the Fight Inequality Alliance.
Photo: Javed Sultan

Name: Saba
Age: 38 years
Occupation: Homemaker

Saba pursued her education until the intermediate level. She works with two local NGOs in her locality in Khichripur, Delhi. She has a clear understanding of the causes of inequality.

On Inequality: "The primary reason for inequality is that India does not have equal educational opportunities for all classes. The problem lies in the administration of the schools where they do not maintain reservation for the Economically Weaker Section. Even after the reservation system, only those who have good contacts and are wealthier get a good education by offering bribes. Secondly, the sense of inferiority and discrimination in the minds of rich and privileged expands the gap between rich and poor."

On the solution: She firmly feels that amendments should be made in the education system because education is directly linked to inequality. Law enforcement should be strict against corrupt practices in the administration. People should eliminate the gap between rich and poor and should interact with each other, sharing thoughts and feelings would reduce this gap largely.


Activists are mobilising around the world as anger about shocking levels of inequality grows, ahead of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos
Photo: Javed Sultan

Name: Fatima
Age: 20 years 
Occupation: Student at School of Open Learning, University of Delhi
On Inequality: "The differences in gender arise due to the privilege given to men. Female foeticide still exists in the Indian society and therefore causes inequality between two genders from the very beginning. If girls are given as many opportunities and resources that an average male gets, it will change the mindset of this patriarchal society."


Activists on the frontlines of inequality say it's time for the spotlight to shift from Davos to solutions from below.
Photo: Javed Sultan 

Name: Sarla
 Age: 60 years
Occupation: Homemaker

"No matter how educated females become, it is all of no use if patriarchy is not eliminated from the minds of people. "

On Inequality: Sarla explained a different perspective of a patriarchal society. She finds that our society has this stereotype that men always are above women. "If a man earns ₹10 for his family, he will get all the devotion, respect and even if a woman earns ₹100, she is not given the same respect."
She is happy that at least her husband gives her the respect she deserves as a homemaker but added that this humble attitude towards her by her is husband is often made off that a lady is controlling a man. 

Inequality makes it harder to reduce poverty. This is more or less an arithmetic fact. If economic growth helps pull people out of poverty, it’s power to do so is undermined by inequality.
Photo: Javed Sultan

Name: Pankaj
 Age: 39 years
Occupation: a local businessman in Trilokpuri

Pankaj believes that the event would make people aware of how the rich are getting richer and poor getting poorer. "Usually the rich do not help the less privileged ones; this event will initiate a thought in them to help and play their role in the process of equality. 
The steps taken by the government remain unreached to the target population because of corruption in the process. This makes them more vulnerable and thus the various government schemes and programs are not successful."

On Inequality: On asked about the problems faced by the people in Trilokpuri, Pankaj revealed that child labour is rampant in the area. The family is not capable enough to make the children go to private schools and therefore the child has to work despite there a law criminalizing child labour. The government schools in the area do not hold the capacity and resources to give quality education to children. 

On the solution: "A collective voice needs to be raised for equality, for the rights and equal opportunities of the people. The event Asamanta Bhagao is a step towards the same."


Inequality undermines economic growth. It’s not just poor people that rely on economic growth to improve their lives. We all do.
Photo: Oxfam India 

Name: Yuvraj 
 Age: 19 years 
Occupation: A student of Delhi University and a social worker. 
“Samanta= Shiksha”

On Inequality: He believes by raising voice against inequality between rich and poor, the required authorities and people will realize their responsibility to support and give equal opportunities to the poor. "Quality education is the first step in this process. The reason why a doctor’s child is a doctor and a farmer’s child is a farmer is that the mindsets of those people are restricted. Quality and equal education will help the child to follow his/her talent and excel in the field he/she wants to. Thereby reducing the gap between rich and poor."



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