Living off Daddy’s wealth

Publication Year : 2021

Lack of social mobility is very visible in Pakistan. Political power also seems to be coagulated as the chances of getting elected are tied into traditional wealth, land and family status. Power, privilege and wealth seem to remain in the family in Pakistan. A few years ago a principal of an elite school told me that the students there were disinterested in serious studies as daddy’s wealth was certain, and their elite status was guaranteed in society through inheritances. Discussing this with various members of our privileged class, it becomes immediately apparent that hard work is not an aspiration. Power and privilege is a right in our society, not something to be earned through hard work. An entitlement culture prevails not just in agriculture but also in business and politics. Examine the elite and you find large cohorts who even if educated have never really used that education. Their lives largely have been of leisure made possible through inheritances and sources of rentier income. Such lack of social mobility and the preservation of privilege was the hallmark of feudal societies. For long periods this privilege preservation kept a large part of the population locked into the poverty trap. It took revolutions – some bloody – to break this system. Many of these revolutions involved land redistribution. It is not surprising then that most analysts think of rentier income as coming only from land and so ask for land reform.