Today, my grandparents showed me a video of Indian Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s daughter-in-law’s wedding dress; it is allegedly worth 5-6 million US Dollars. Now, when most people think of India, they think of the following things: Gandhi, snake charmers, call centers, Tandoori Chicken, poor people living in huts and slums, as well as other things. It’s no secret that many Indians work in the growing field of Information Technology, while others can barely afford to eat two square meals a day. However, not many people know about the wealth disparity; those less fortunate struggle for most, if not all, of their lives, while fortunate ones sit in their air conditioned homes and have multiple servants, as well as drivers.
When I visit India, my family’s servants do whatever I ask and a driver can take me anywhere I’d like. Thanks to my upbringing, I know to refuse and do it myself as I cannot tolerate someone else cleaning my dirty dishes. My food, my chores. That is the mindset I live with, but not many wealthy Indians believe that. Just like how having a luxury car is a sign of an affluent family, so is the number of servants one’s family has.
This extreme wealth disparity reminds me of Ancient Rome’s Plebeians and Patricians. Patricians in Ancient Rome belong to the Upper Class and were almost always involved in politics, whereas Plebeians, roughly 90% of the population, were bribed by free bread and entertainment to not rebel against the injustices they tolerated.
Going back to politics, if it was not for men like Mukesh Ambani, who funded Modi’s campaign and lent his private helicopter to Narendra Modi, Modi would not be the Prime Minister of India today.
Although bread held the Plebeians back from rebelling and possibly becoming better, the lack of a quality education in is what holds most Indians back. Not only do most government schools provide a inadequate education, it is a societal norm to hire a private tutor outside of school. The actual school is not taken seriously, but the tutor is. What happens to the people who can’t afford a private school or a tutor? They’re left behind.
This wealth disparity is arguably the biggest one as not many people have done something to improve the situation. Until one of us takes action, even if it’s to educate more people on the problem itself, the wealth disparity will stay as it is. So, tell me, is India the new Ancient Rome?