Mapping the wealth elites of India

Jodhka, S. Surinder
Vakulabharanam, Vamsi
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Southern Centre for Inequality Studies
Exploration of extreme wealth concentration and wealth elite of a given society/nation-state provides a useful ‘lens’ to the understanding of social, economic, and political processes. Besides helping in exploring economic inequities, such an exercise could also help in a better understanding of the social and political dynamics of a given society. Part of a broader comparative study supported through the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, the paper explores the processes that produce, expand/dissolve and reproduce the extreme concentration of wealth in the context of the institutional and social structures in India. The study engages with the historical and empirical processes of big wealth India by (1) mapping the historical and contemporary processes through which wealth elites have been created; (2) the changing nature of their social profile over time and across regions of the country; (3) patterns and dynamics of social ascription in the processes of wealth expansion, shrinkage, and reproduction. Thus, besides exploring the historical processes of wealth formation and mapping big wealth, the study also attempts to document spatial variations across different regions of India. Primary fieldwork for the study was carried out in four city regions, selected from different parts of contemporary India: Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Delhi.
Jodhka, S.S and Vakulabharanam, V. 2023. Mapping the wealth elites of India. Wealth Inequality Working Paper | Number 48