ABSTRACT

Introduction............................................................................................................331 Indicators of Inequality and its Justification.........................................................332 A Life Chances View of Poverty ..........................................................................335 Relative vs. Absolute Measures ............................................................................338 Implications of Social Mobility for Societal Efficiency and Equity ....................339 Issues for India Today ...........................................................................................340 The Special Issue of Land Distribution and Access .............................................341 References..............................................................................................................344

One of India’s most significant accomplishments over the last five decades has been to change the world’s image of its poverty. At independence, India was widely regarded as a poor country with almost all of its people living in poverty, albeit overlaid by a very thin but rich upper crust of maharajahs and commercial moguls. The Nizam of Hyderabad and other anachronistic remnants of the precolonial era particularly intrigued many people in other countries, who considered such huge personal accumulations of gold and jewels to be real wealth. These extravagant riches and their accompanying regal lifestyles made even less tolerable the contrasting miserable, constrained conditions of most Indians.