21 Jan. 16: The much-awaited Indian Council of Social Science Research Special Lecture on the theme of “Reflections About Inequality and Capital in the 21st Century” was delivered by Prof. Thomas Piketty at the JNU Convention Centre today. Mr. Piketty is a notable French economist who works on wealth and income equality and is currently a Professor at the Paris School of Economics.
Prof. Piketty based his lecture partly on his famed book, “Capital in the 21st Century” which was published in 2013, as well as on the enormous research he has conducted over the past fifteen years along with several scholars on the global dynamics of income and wealth distribution since the 18th Century, in over twenty countries.
His research revealed that wealth-income ratios seem to have reached very high levels over the past two decades in rich countries due to insufficient public investment, cuts in top income tax rates, falling minimum wages, and a change in the dynamics of demand and supply due to globalisation of the labour market.
This has led to unequal access to skills and education due to rising college tuitions, and Mr. Piketty suggested that it could also lead to extreme nationalism involving antagonism against migrant workforce due to an internal national instability. He recommended a broad combination of institutional measures like progressive taxation, greater transparency and better labour laws to grapple with the rising inequality.
The hour-long lecture was attended by an estimated 1,500 participants as well the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Mr. Najeeb Jung. It was organised in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Regional Development and facilitated by the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2016, which Mr. Piketty would be attending.
Arushi Sharan is an MA student at CPS and works for The Informer.