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Overview

Decades of rapid and unequally shared growth in India are adding new dimensions to old disparities along gender, caste, religious and tribal lines. But this trend stayed at the margin of public debates until recently. Discussions about inequality seemed to evolve in fragmented territories: economists debated about the comparability of inequality measures; policymakers discussed the right balance between growth and inclusiveness; women, Dalit, Muslim and Tribal activists fought for their entitlements under the policies set up to compensate for a history of suppression.

Several recent works of synthesis connect the dots of evidence. They outline a coherent narrative around a wide spectrum of issues—estimates of income distribution, stark disparities in human development outcomes, policy choices and patterns of exclusion. These various dimensions build a solid ground to ask more pressingly: how does the trend impact on India’s society and its system of governance?

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