The conference was jointly organized by the Institute for Human Development and the World Bank, and was held at the India International Centre in New Delhi, India from 1 to 3 June 2016. It addressed the core issues of promoting shared prosperity and social inclusion through an appropriate mix of strategies and policies. The main conference themes were: jobs and economic security, building healthy lives, education for capability expansion, food and nutritional security, strengthening social protection, challenge of improving the quality of the environment, inclusion and citizenship. The conference proceedings were conducted through a combination of plenary and thematic sessions. There were approximately 300 distinguished scholars, public personalities and senior policy makers, including 200 from outside India, who participated at the conference and made substantive contributions. The Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology of the Government of India was the keynote speaker. Other distinguished speakers from the Government of India included the Chief Economic Advisor and the Chief Executive Officer of Niti Aayog – a key economic policy-making organ of the government that replaced the former Planning Commission. A link at the end of the article provides the conference plenary.

Yan Islam, Adjunct Professor, Griffith Asia Institute and a former Branch Chief, Employment and Labour Market Policies, ILO, Geneva was invited by the conference organizers to be one of the main speakers at the inaugural plenary session. He reflected on the question of a trade-off between growth and inequality. Yan noted that rising inequality was a global phenomenon. Drawing on the Standardized World Inequality Dataset (SWID) maintained by Frederic Solt, Yan illustrated long run trends in net income (that is, after adjustments for taxes and transfer payments) inequality in the United States and selected South Asian economies. He distilled the key findings of a vast and voluminous literature ranging between 1955 and 2015 arguing that the nature of the trade-off between growth and inequality is contingent on the policy environment. Some policies can worsen the trade-off, while others can promote both growth and equity. A link to the PowerPoint slides [provide below] highlight the substance of his presentation.

The conference was well organized and very well attended. The presence of high-profile representatives from the Indian government and the contributions from distinguished scholars provide testimony to the stature of the conference. The use of thematic sessions to showcase competitively selected papers from young scholars reflects the commitment of the conference organizers to ensure that a new generation of academic scholarship is given prominence.

Growth and inequality : a trade-off? [PowerPoint] presentation by Yan Islam
[Note: Clicking on the above link will automatically download the PPT file]

‘Prosperity, Equality and Sustainability: Perspectives and Policies for a Better World’ conference plenary [PDF]

Article by Yan Islam, Adjunct Professor, Griffith Asia Institute and former Chief, Employment and Labour Market Policies Branch, ILO, Geneva.