#EvenitUp: Ten Reasons Why Strengthening Public Services Makes for a More Equal World

#EvenitUp: Ten Reasons Why Strengthening Public Services Makes for a More Equal World


@OxfamIndia provides 10 reasons on why it is crucial to strengthen public services. Know more. http://bit.ly/1N3Rx5s #EvenitUp

10 reasons explain the importance of strong and efficient public services. Read here. http://bit.ly/1N3Rx5s #EvenitUp

The ever widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ has rung alarm bells across the globe, including India. We bring to you 10 reasons that stress on the importance of strengthening public services in order for a more equal world.  


1. Public services are a strong weapon against economic inequality

Free quality public services such as health, education are a strong weapon in the fight against self-perpetuating economic inequality. As noted by the recently-released Oxfam report ‘Even It Up’, if India stops inequality from rising, it could end extreme poverty for 90 million people in just five years.

 Public services are a strong weapon against economic inequality

2. Counters extreme income inequalities. 

Free public services mitigate the impact of skewed income distribution, where we have a surge in the number of India’s billionaires from just two in the 1990s to 65 in early 2014.

 Counters extreme income inequalities.

3. Access to ‘virtual income’

Free public services redistribute by putting ‘virtual income’ into the pockets of the poorest women and men. Free services do to the household budget the opposite of what user charges do. 

 Access to ‘virtual income’

4. Equal access to all; Inclusion of all

Universal public services provide equal access to all and facilitate inclusion of the most marginalized.  Latest available NSSO data shows that while four-fifths of all ailments (78% in the rural areas and 81% in the urban areas) were treated from private sources, the proportion for Dalits and Adivasis was much lower.  According to latest studies, every year, health payments push six crore Indians below poverty line.

 Equal access to all; Inclusion of all 

5. More accountability of the state

The state is made more accountable to its people when it employs tax financed public services.  Public Services also promote local control and public rights. 

 More accountability of the state

6. Setting the benchmark on quality and cost

Public service systems provide a benchmark to private systems which remain compartmentalized and unaccountable in terms of quality and cost. Private systems discriminate and alienate. It is well known that when the poor are at their most vulnerable and need emergency healthcare, private systems are unresponsive and serve only the affluent. In healthcare, public health services are far more efficient than private ones at ensuring universal quality healthcare and better life as has been noted in a 2015 PSI Report. 

Setting the benchmark on quality and cost  

7. Public schools need policy priority

Three-fourths of rural student enrolments in India are in government schools. Private schools have been on a steady rise in India since the past few decades, with private sector enrolment of children between 6-14 years increasing from 18.7% in 2006 to 30.8% in 2014. Simultaneously, the allocations for public (government) schools have been decreasing which reflect in poor learning outcomes in public schools. This can also be construed as increasing policy push for private schools and withdrawal from the public system.

Public schools need policy priority

8. Stronger public distribution system 

Public Distribution System (PDS) in India is the largest in the world and provides food security to 80 crore people if National Food Security Act (NFSA) is properly implemented. National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 showed that 43.7% of Indian children below five were underweight.

Stronger public distribution system

9. Free and quality healthcare for all

Public health services reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on health and frees up money for consumption on other necessities. This becomes even more critical when one notes that India spends twice as much on its military as on health (World Bank 2015).

 Free and quality healthcare for all

10. Tax Justice critical to ensure equality

Progressive taxation systems (higher tax-GDP ratio, more direct taxes, checking tax evasion and avoidance, ending corporate tax exemptions, and strengthening global cooperation on tax justice) go a long way to ensure financing for public services. if most of the tax revenue foregone by the Indian government to exemptions (Rs.5.89 lakh crore or about 5% of GDP) is freed up, it will be adequate to finance universal healthcare for all

 Tax justice critical to ensure equality


Written by: Pooja Parvati, Maju Varghese and Oommen C. Kurian from the Oxfam India Policy, Research and Campaigns team.

Photo Credit: Srikant Kolari

Photo Credit: Child In Need Institute, CINI, Jharkhand



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