New Delhi: French economist Thomas Piketty has defended the Congress party’s poll promise of minimum income guarantee (MIG), saying that India’s poor have been “badly treated by the country’s elite”.
“It is high time to move from the politics of caste conflict to the politics of income and wealth distribution,” Piketty said in an email response to ThePrint, confirming that he was helping the Congress frame the proposed MIG scheme.
ThePrint had reported on 31 January, quoting top Congress leaders as saying that Piketty and Angus Deaton, the British economist who won the Nobel Prize in 2015, were advising the Congress on its poll promise. Deaton, however, denied it to ThePrint, saying that no one from the Congress had contacted him.
Helping the Congress: Piketty
Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, told ThePrint that he, along with Professor Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, M.I.T, was advising the principal opposition party in India on the proposed MIG scheme.
“Yes, we’ve been exchanging with the Congress together with Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) about how much it would cost and how to implement this,” Piketty said. “My view is that a minimum income scheme would be highly welcome.”
Piketty is the author of the much-acclaimed book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which dealt with how inequality grew since the industrial revolution and wealth got concentrated in a few rich families. The Economist called the French economist “the modern Marx”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had earlier declared that if voted to power, his party would implement the minimum income guarantee to the poor.