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May 28, 2018

Inequality in India: How it Can be Seen from Outer Space

This BBC article covers Resident Senior Fellow Vivek Dehejia and former Resident Senior Fellow Praveen Chakravarty's work on economic divergence, portraying how nighttime lights data reveal widespread inequalities across India. Excerpts:


"Economists Praveen Chakravarty and Vivek Dehejia certainly believe so. They acquired images grabbed by satellites from the US Air Force Defence Meteorological Satellite Programme. These satellites circle the earth 14 times a day and record lights from the earth's surface at night with sensors. They superimposed a map depicting India's districts on their images, allowing them to develop a unique data set of luminosity values, by district and over time.


'What we find is that both across states and across districts with each state, this is a wide, and widening disparity in economic activity. No, it is not that the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but that the poor are not getting richer fast enough to close the gap with the already rich,' says Dr Dehejia, a senior fellow at the Mumbai-based think tank IDFC Institute. In other words, less developed states are falling behind the more prosperous states."


Read the whole article here.

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