No backlash against the wealthy in India despite inequities: Rohini Nilekani


Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani on Friday said that there is no backlash against the wealthy in India, despite the inequities in the society. Nilekani, wife of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, said ideally, no society or government will tolerate runaway wealth creation by a few, but added that India is an exception to it.

“I think in India, there is not so much backlash against the wealthy. And the wealthy therefore have even more responsibility to use that wealth wisely because of so much inequity in the society,” Nilekani said speaking at the annual Tata Litlive.

The comments come at a time when multiple bodies, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have flagged concerns over the rising income inequality in the society. Many observers have said that India is undergoing a ‘K-shaped’ growth where the rich are getting richer while the less fortunate slide down towards peril.

Nilekani said Indians are generally more optimistic about wealth creation and “we ought to chase the goal as well”, but underlined that the privileged also have to do more by ensuring that the wealth they have created is used for larger public good.

There is also a need for the privileged class to engage more with public services, she said, pointing out that in the last few decades the moneyed classes have “seceded” from such pursuits.

Nilekani pointed to the recent flooding in Bengaluru as an event because of such secession from what ought to be done.

“The elite have just seceded from public services and quite happily over the last several decades…we have everything private, from water to electricity to schools to healthcare. That distances you from the rest,” she said, adding that events like the pandemic, flooding and bad quality air just break the cocoons.

“Our elite privileges are built on very shaky public foundations. What can we do as the society and elite to make that public foundation stronger?” she added.

Nilekani also pitched for remote voting, but said that the same needs to be fraud-free, and added that making it clean will encourage more youth to vote.


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