The rich-Poor Polarisation in Vietnam and its Impacts on Vietnamese Society

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Abstract

After 35 years of the comprehensive Đổi Mới, or Renovation policy, Vietnam has gained important achievements in the economic, political, military, diplomatic, cultural and social spheres. The great achievements affirm the Party’s correct and creative policy of reform. Nevertheless, the country is still facing many difficulties and challenges. The gap between rich and poor in present-day Vietnam and its impacts have really become special concerns of the entire political system and society. In order to minimise the gap, and to realise social progress and equity, the country develops the right strategy of socio-economic development, and practical and specific policy of poverty alleviation, continuing strongly the Đổi Mới cause.Within the scope of this paper, the author tries to contribute to better clarify the reality of the rich-poor polarisation in Vietnam at present and its impacts on Vietnam’s society in the time of renovation, accelerated industrialisation, modernisation and international integration.

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Introduction Since the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (1986) up to now, Vietnam passtd 35 years of the comprehensive renovation policy (Đổi Mới), gained important achievements in many areas, and the people’s life has been improved remarkably. However, besides the achievements gained, Vietnam is also facing many difficulties and challenges that need to be addressed on the path towards the goal of “a rich people, strong country, equitable, democratic and civilised society”, in which the issues of sustainable poverty reduction and of the gap between the rich and the poor in the society are among the very important ones, attracting the attention of the whole political system and society. Therefore, there is a wide range of books, projects referring to poverty situation and the results of poverty reduction in Vietnam. Tuan Phong Don and Hosein Jalian [1997] with research “Poverty and poverty reduction policies in Vietnam: experiences from a transition economy”, evaluated poverty reduction policies such as land policy, preferential credit for the poor, building infrastructure. The author clearly showed the importance of poverty reduction policies in Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Hang in "Current issue of poverty reduction in rural Vietnam" [1997] not only stated the objective indispensability of poverty reduction, quite fully assessing the situation of poverty in Vietnam especially since the transition to a market economy, but also introduced measures to reduce poverty in rural Vietnam. In 1999, the World Bank released the “Vietnam Development Report: Attacking poverty”. The World Bank assessed the impact of the poverty reduction policy on a national scale, and also pointed out the positive effects and the limitations in each poverty reduction policy [World Bank 1999]. Lê Xuân Bá in the study of “Poverty and Poverty Reduction in Vietnam” [2001], gave an overview of poverty in the world, the poverty assessment methods in Vietnam, and a case study on poverty practices in Quang Binh province, thereby suggesting some common concerns and solutions to poverty reduction in Vietnam. David Sattethwaite in "Urban and Rural Poverty: Understanding the Differences" [2002], stated that economic reforms in Vietnam achieved rapid growth, especially in the 1990s. Rodolphe De Koninck, Jules Lamarre, Bruno Gendron in “Understanding Poverty in Vietnam and the Philippines. Concepts and Context” [2003], identified poverty as a social phenomenon and compared the linkages of gender, poverty, and policies between in the two countries. The author concluded that both countries had made great efforts in hunger eradication and poverty reduction, but the gender issue was still important. The policies were often single, simply subsidizing traditionally, with few comprehensive social assessments and surveys. Bùi Minh Đạo in "Some Issues of Poverty Reduction among Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam"[2003], referred to some theoretical issues of poverty and poverty reduction in ethnic minorities of Vietnam. Pierre Jacquet and Olivier Charnoz in the article "Infrastructure, Growth and Poverty Alleviation" [2004] believed that by the Doi Moi policy carried out in 1986, the Government of Vietnam considered infrastructure as a vital factor in national development strategy. However, the relationship between infrastructure building, growth and poverty reduction needed to be analyzed more. Lê Bạch Dương, Đặng Nguyên Anh, Khuất Thu Hồng, Lê Hoài Trung, Robert Leroy Bach published a study on “Social Protection for Disadvantaged Groups in Vietnam” [2005], in which hunger eradication and poverty reduction were integrated into the same social welfare. Nguyễn Thị Hoa in "Poverty Reduction Policies in Vietnam to 2015" [2010], pointed out that the system of poverty reduction policies being applied in Vietnam focused on four policies: preferential credit for the poor, investment in infrastructure, education and health support for the poor. Thereby the author assessed the impact of policies on poverty in Vietnam and proposed solutions to complete the policy according to new requirements. National Academy of Public Administration published "Policy on Poverty Alleviation - Current Situation and Solutions" [2012] - a monograph explaining the poverty in Vietnam, directions and policies of the Party and State in the reform and the fighting against poverty; achievements and shortcomings in the process of implementing the poverty reduction policies. From there, the authors proposed objectives and solutions to poverty reduction for the next period. Nguyễn Thị Lan Hương et al. with research on “Social Welfare for Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam” [2015] analyzed the livelihood characteristics, risks, poverty situation of the ethnic minorities; policies and access to social welfare for ethnic minorities. Since then, the authors recommended policies for each group to support job creation, poverty reduction, policies to ensure education, health, housing and minimum clean water for the people. The Ministry of Planning and Investment, the People’s Committee of Dien Bien Province and the World Bank with the “Report on Poverty Reduction in Dien Bien Province for the Period of 2010-2015” [2015] analyzed the natural, economic and social conditions that impacted on poverty reduction projects, presenting the scale, scope, total capital and results of the project on hunger eradication and poverty reduction in Dien Bien province in the period 2010-2015. Within the scope of this paper, the author wishes to contribute to better clarifying the reality of the rich - poor polarisation in Vietnam at present and its impacts on Vietnam’s society in the time of renovation, accelerated industrialisation, modernisation and international integration. To better clarify these issues, first of all, we need to have a clear awareness and take steps with appropriate solutions. Status of the rich-poor polarisation in Vietnam During the implementation of the policy of national renovation and construction with socialist orientation since the 6th Party Congress (1986), with the guidelines of economic growth and development having to go hand in hand with solving social issues and gradual realisation of social equity in appropriate economic conditions, poverty reduction and hunger elimination have been considered to be of strategic importance in the country’s socio-economic development strategy. Following the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Congresses of the CPV in 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 respectively, the viewpoint of the CPV and the State of Vietnam has consistently been that hunger eradication and poverty reduction remained both a goal and a requirement, as well as a driving force for socio-economic development, contributing to ensuring social security and social equity. The tasks of hunger eradication and poverty reduction have gradually been institutionalised through development of legal documents, socio-economic development plans, concrete objectives and specific policies in a principle of “harmonious combination of economic growth and realisation of social equity and progress”, “gradually narrowing the gaps in the development level and in living standards amongst regions, ethnic groups and all ways of life”. The Party and the State have maintained a consistent policy of sustainable poverty reduction in parallel with encouragement of lawful wealth creation. Efforts were made to promote multidimensional poverty reduction policies and overcoming the risk of falling back into poverty, especially for the poor districts, with priorities given to poor ethnic minority groups living in the districts, border communes, “security zone” communes, communes and villages faced with extreme difficulties, the coastal areas and islands; narrowing the gap in living standards and social security as compared to the national averages [Ban chấp hành 2015: 109-110]. However, in reality, besides the great economic, political, cultural and social achievements, the rich-poor gap - “the central axis of social stratification” [Đỗ Nguyên Phương 1994:10] - has been revealed clearly and has become more intense, leading to the rich-poor polarisation. The rich-poor polarisation in Vietnam has recently taken diverse forms and extents with extreme complexity. Rich-poor polarisation happens between urban and rural areas, amongst regions, age groups, occupational and ethnic groups, and the locations of residence. The clearest expression of the polarisation can be found in the following aspects. Rich-poor polarisation in terms of income Results of the survey on living standards and households of Vietnam from 1992 to 2012 conducted by the General Statistics Office (GSO) showed that the gap between the 20% highest income group and the 20% lowest income group in the country tended to widen, from 4.9 folds in 1992 to 9.4 folds in 2012 [Tổng cục Thống kê 2014а: 201]. During the ten years of 2002-2012, incomes of the poor household group accounted for only 3.8%-5.3% (with an average of 4.7%) of the total income of the society. Meanwhile, at the other extreme, the richest income group accounted for a much larger part - approx. 50.8%-65.4% (with an average of 54.4%), although each wealth quintile accounted for the equal 20% of the population. This shows that in Vietnam, the rich tended to get richer, because they enjoyed more favourable conditions, while the poor, though possibly not getting poorer, found it difficult to improve their incomes because of limited capital, education or job skills. In 2019, the per capita income per month of regions across the country all increased compared to 2018, of which the North Central and the Central Coast had the highest income growth rate with 10.5%; the Red River Delta increased 8.7%; the Southeast and the Mekong River heap up 8.4%; the Northern Midlands and Mountains increased by 7.7%; the Central Highlands increased 6.9% [Tổng cục Thống kê 2019: 17]. The average income per capita per month of the group of 20% of households with the highest income per capita reached VND 10.1 million, folding 10.2 times of the group of 20% of households with the lowest income per capita seizing VND 988,000. In 2019, the GINI index of the whole country was 0.423, of which the rural area was 0.415, showing the gap with the urban area of 0.373. The income gap and the rich-poor polarisation among groups have improved, decreasing from 0.425 in 2018 to 0.423 in 2019 [Tổng cục Thống kê 2019: 17]. On the other hand, based on data from the GSO during the period of Đổi Mới, especially based on the findings of the 2012 survey, it can be seen that inequality in Vietnam was growing with the Gini coefficient increased from 0.33 in 1992 to 0.424 in 2012 for the whole country. Rich-poor polarisation in terms of assets The disparity in terms of assets in Vietnam has in recent years grown even faster than the disparity in terms of income. In 2014, Vietnam had 116 “superbly rich” persons, with an increase of 40 persons compared with 11 years before (2003). The Knight Frank forecast in 2015 that, in a decade’s time since then, Vietnam will be the country with the highest growth rate in the number of superbly rich persons in the world, achieving the number of about 300 persons [Xuân Thân 2015], of whom the 100 richest people on the stock market will hold the assets worth more than VND 70 trillion - approximately equivalent to USD 3 billion, and equivalent to 1.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013. According to data from Knight Frank in 2019, Vietnam had 458 super-rich people with a net worth of more than USD 30 million, increasing 7% comparing to 2018. By the end of 2019, Vietnam had 5 billionaires and 2020 reduced to 4 billionaires (accounting in USD). In reality, the number of superbly rich persons in Vietnam could be much higher than in the forecast because the figures were primarily based on reported assets through the disclosed ownership of stocks in listed companies, not yet taking into account the ownership of assets of the rich held in the names of their relatives as well as via companies. The increases in the number and asset values of superbly rich persons in Vietnam was positive signs, reflecting the growth of the economy to a certain extent. However, an opposite picture remains with currently nearly 2 million poor households and a situation of 1-2 months of food shortage in regions populated by ethnic groups, stricken by floods and droughts, and with over 1 million people (equivalent to 20,000 households, accounting for 5% of the households) faced with food shortage each year, according to the new poverty standards and 1.2% of the households nationwide. Rich-poor polarisation through access to and enjoyment of basic social services In 2002, the difference in the percentage of population with college and university degrees between the highest income 20% and the lowest income 20% was recorded at 3.45 folds, while in 2012, it increased to 50.25 folds (1.3% against 20.1 %) [Tổng cục Thống kê 2014b: 73] Most of those in households with lower levels of education (being illiterate, having never gone to school, having no degrees) belonged to the poor group (11.77% in 2002; increased to 15.7% in 2012) and only a very small percentage belonged to well-to-do groups (5% in 2002, dropped to 1.2% in 2012). Many children of poor farmers, especially those living in poor communes in mountainous, ethnic minority populated areas, did not have access to literacy and vocational training, and could not have access to and to enjoy high quality education. Therefore, they were hardly able to improve their mentality and social capital, or to get high income jobs. On the contrary, the rich usually choose good international schools or those which meet national standards, right from the kindergarten level, for their children’s education, or they even send their children to study abroad. Thus, their offsprings can enjoy good opportunities for the future careers. In 2014, spending by households on healthcare remained high, accounting for nearly 48% of family income against the figure of 62.9% in 1995; (according to the World Health Organisation, only when the figure is below 30% can equity in healthcare be achieved) [Bộ Y tế 2015: 23]. This can make households with average incomes fall into poverty when their family members fall sick. In 2018, the total per capita expenditure was VND 2,546,000 per month for the whole country, by urban it was VND 3,496,000 and in the countryside VND 2,069,000; the Red River Delta region was VND 3,018,000, the Northern Midlands and Mountains was VND 2,000,000, the North Central and the Central Coast was VND 2,182,000, the Central Highlands was VND 2,234,000, the Southeast region was VND 3,349,000, the Mekong Delta was VND 2,237,000 [Tổng cục Thống kê 2019: 863]. There is an extensive healthcare system in the country, but it is unevenly distributed, with large hospitals mainly concentrated at the central level, big cities and urban areas in general, and going with those large hospitals are teams of nurses and doctors of higher professional qualifications and huge budget priorities. Meanwhile, the majority of poor people live in rural and remote mountainous areas. It is not easy to get access to good quality health services and healthcare by poor people in the areas. Such a reality causes inequity to the people, especially to the poor living in remote areas, with regard to accessing services. At the same time, it causes “reverse subsidy”, when the rich enjoy state budget expenditures more than the poor do. In particular, the inequity in healthcare is more pronounced as social ladders descend. Poor people, people with low education, ethnic minorities and children are prone to face disadvantages. The results of the international research entitled “The Young Lives” in Vietnam released on January 19, 2015 showed that stunted children were increasingly concentrated among children of the poorest families, only 9% of children from wealthier households were stunted, compared with 31% of children from poor families, and only 14% of children of the Kinh majority were stunted compared with 52% among ethnic minorities children. That demonstrates the increasingly widening gap between the rich and the poor in Vietnam. Apparently, a large part of the population was still marginalised from a better development trend if one failed to take effective measures to reverse such a situation. Of the coverage of all social insurance schemes, the extreme poverty groups enjoyed only 11.2%, whereas the richest quintile enjoyed 58.1%; urban areas - 56.2%; rural areas - only 22.0%; the Kinh and the Hoa (Vietnamese of Chinese origin) - 35.2%, whereas minority groups - only 14.0%. The rate of social insurance contribution of the poorest groups was 7.5%, and by contrast, the richest quintile accounted for 50%. The poorest groups enjoyed merely 29.6% of medical benefits while the richest groups enjoyed 33.7% [Ngân hàng Thế giới 2012: 85]. By the end of 2019, 8 of 64 districts have escaped poverty according to Resolution 30a. In 2020, the average income of poor households increased by 2.3 times comparing to 2015. By the end of 2019, the whole country had 85.39 million people participating in health insurance, increasing 44.81% comparing to 2012 and accounting for 90% of the population. By the end of 2018, 98.4% of communes had medical centres, 90% of villages had village health workers, 90% of communes had doctors, 95% of communes had an obstetrician or midwife. A similar pattern was observed in the electricity and clean water supply for domestic usage, with 21% suffering domestic electricity shortage, and 18.2% having to use natural water from rivers, streams, lakes and ponds which were not hygienic. A high proportion of poor people still did not have or lacked land for production. In approx. 8% of farmer households did not have farming land. That mostly happened in the Mekong Delta (39%), the Southeastern region (31%), the Tay Nguyen, or Central Highlands (3%) and the Central Coast (9%). Infrastructure for production was still underdeveloped, with people lacking market outlets and production knowledge because of low educational levels, having no technical expertise or being illiterate. To make things worse, outdated customs and discrimination still exist which made children drop out of school and the sick unable to receive healthcare, causing wastefulness, high costs and inability to repay loans. Social disparity and inequality among regions, genders and population groups were increasing. While urban areas benefited the most from the policies of economic reform and growth, poverty was still persistent in many rural areas of Vietnam, and at a very high level in ethnic minority populated regions. The rich-poor disparity among the population tends to increase as the income gap between the richest and the poorest in 2014 was 9.7 times, increasing to 10 times in 2018. By the end of 2019, in many places, the rate of poor households remained over 50%; the proportion of poor ethnic minority households accounted for 58.53% of total poor households across the country. Despite many limitations and shortcomings in the work of poverty alleviation, in general, Vietnam is considered by the world to have made impressive achievements in poverty reduction. The national poverty rate was reduced by an average of 1.5-2% per year; districts and communes with special difficulties reduced their poverty rates by 4% per year in accordance with poverty standards for each period. In 1993, the nationwide poor household rate was 58.1%, in 2011 it was 9.5%, in 2013 - 7.8%, in 2014 - 5.8%-6%. The rate of poor households (calculated by the multidimensional poverty measurement method) in 2019 was 5.7% in which classified by urban areas was 1.2%, rural area was 8.0%; by region by Red River Delta was 1.6%, Northern Midlands and Mountains was 16.4%, North Central and Central Coast was 7.4%, Central Highlands was 12.4%, Southeast region was 0.5%., the Mekong Delta area was 4.8% [Tổng cục Thống kê 2019: 863]. Economic growth taking place on a large scale has resulted in significant improvements in quality of life for most people. The quality of life of even the people who still live in poverty was also improved significantly. The shortage in consumption faced by the poor was seen as being at a medium level against the poverty line, measured by the poverty gap ratio, and was also continuously decreased. The characteristics of the poor groups also changed significantly during the period. The household size of a typical poor family fell from 5.2 persons to 4.8 persons. The contemporary Vietnamese society has become more diverse than two decades before, when the country began implementing the renovation process. Both qualitative and quantitative studies show that the gap between the rich and the poor in Vietnam is increasingly widened, leading to the rich-poor polarisation. Therefore, the Party and the State of Vietnam have taken timely and effective mitigation measures to avoid facing an acute rich-poor polarisation which may lead to social polarisation in the future. The reality also requires that the Party and the State be more cautious regarding scenarios and policies for socio-economic development to contribute to a reduced rich-poor polarisation. Impacts of the rich-poor polarisation on today’s society of Vietnam To contribute to reducing the rich-poor polarisation to the lowest level possible, thus implementing of social equity and progress, over the past years, the State has been formulating and implementing many socio-economic development policies. However, in the process of implementation, no small number of limitations have been preventing the polarisation from being minimised in reality. The national poverty rate decreased rapidly, from 14.2% in 2010 to 7% in 2015 (according to the poverty standard in the period 2011-2015) and from 9.2% in 2016 to below 3% in 2020 (according to the standard multi-dimensional poverty). Essential infrastructure in poor districts, poor communes, and ethnic minority areas has been strengthened. People’s lives are constantly improving; creating livelihoods and improving access to basic social services. In 2015, the Vietnamese government issued multidimensional poverty standard applicable to the period 2016-2020, marking an important input into Vietnam's transition from measuring income poverty to measuring multidimensional poverty. Accordingly, the new poverty standard was determined to replace the old poverty standard with higher poverty escape criteria. Vietnam has become one of the leading countries in the Asia-Pacific in measuring multidimensional poverty to reduce poverty in all dimensions. Per capita income increased 2.7 times, from VND 16.6 million in 2010 to VND 45.1 million in 2018. Thanks to applying the multi-dimensional poverty measurement method, in 2018, Vietnam’s poverty reduction rate was controlled, people’s lives were stable, and infrastructure in remote and upland areas had been improved. In 2019, the rate of poor households in Vietnam decreased to 3.75%, of which the rate of poor households in poor districts decreased to 27.85%. Averagely in 5 years it decreased 1.53% per year. In 5 years (2015-2019), 1.353.805 households out of 2.338.569 poor households had escaped poverty (accounting for 58%). Over the years, many solutions were implemented to create jobs and improve income for employees. The unemployment rate of the working force in urban areas tends to decrease gradually, from 4.3% in 2010 to about 3% in 2020 building harmonious and progressive labor relations. The rich-poor polarisation has exerted impacts on the modern society of Vietnam in multiple dimensions. In that regard, positive impacts include the fact that the polarisation has contributed to arousing social dynamics of men of various social groups, stimulating them to search for and exploit opportunities to develop and to move forward, stimulating the people’s creativity in order to create a strong environment of competition, thereby screening and selecting outstanding members, thus creating driving forces for the development of each sector, each field or each locality. Especially many people and groups of people in the society have got rich by doing business in accordance with law. Wealthy households provided guidance to the poor people on how to earn living/do business and to generate incomes, thus helping the economy to develop with high labour productivity, increasing social welfare (healthcare, education etc.) for citizens, with income taxes levied on the rich. However, the rich-poor polarisation, if not mitigated in a timely fashion, will hinder the process of economic growth and development, reducing the number of resources used in the State’s policies of social welfare and social security. A deep rich-poor polarisation is also one of the causes of moral degradation and increased social evils and crimes. Moreover, in the long-term, the rich-poor polarisation could lead to social polarisation, weakening social cohesion and giving rise to the “potential” social conflict, diminishing the people’s confidence in the regime. The rich-poor polarisation could lead to social polarisation. Besides those getting rich due to their true talents and efforts, there are also a considerable number of “corrupt officials”, “business barons” or “nouveaux riches” getting rich quickly in an illicit and illegal fashion, by taking advantage of loopholes of the law to exploit natural resources and labour, and to plunder of social assets. These illicit earnings increase the gap between the rich and the poor, making the poor poorer. Because of the fact that such money is primarily ill-earned through non-labour, not as the results of sweat and tears, those nouveaux riches lead a very lavish, wasteful, even downright snobbish way of life [Lý Thị Huệ 2014]. The rich-poor polarisation in the long run will dissatisfy and frustrate the people, reducing social cohesion, increasing the number of lawsuits and destabilising the society. The polarisation also leads to such negative consequences as public officials and party members being prone to self-evolution for the worse, seriously affecting internal political security; ineffective functioning of the State apparatus; the Party and the State’s guidelines and policies being disabled and distorted; and weakening of the leadership by the Party. All this facilitates the hostile forces continuation with their plots of “peaceful evolution”, diminishing the people’s trust in the Party and threatening the survival of the socialist regime which we are building step by step. The rich-poor polarisation contains not only latent contradictions and conflicts but also the risks of destroying the renovation process and the realisation of the nation’s development goals. The deep rich-poor polarisation can become factors constraining economic growth and development (in the case of illicit creation of wealth), because gravely growing income inequality will cause economic growth to be unstable. This situation causes mechanical migration from rural to urban areas, from disadvantaged areas to more favourable ones, thereby putting pressure on the overloaded urban infrastructure and causing social disturbance. Therefore, good problem solving of the rich-poor polarisation will exert a positive impact on the economic development goals in a sustainable way. From a social perspective, the rich-poor polarisation negatively affects social security, and increasing social evils and crimes. Always faced with economic difficulties, many poor people feel that their lives are threatened. Poverty and hunger often go hand in hand with illiteracy, which easily plunges part of the poor people into a dead end of their lives. Considering themselves having “nothing to lose”, some poor people may desperately do things which violate the law and ethical rules, such as committing theft, robbery, fraud, smuggling, prostitution etc. In terms of ethics, the rich-poor polarisation makes some people go astray with deviant orientations of ethical values and standards, and of social lifestyle. Along with the promotion of a market economy, there emerges a philosophy of “the strong win and the weak lose, the smart survive and the stupid die”, and the burning desire to run after money disregarding emotions and gratitude. Moral degradation is a factor to destroy good values and traditions in many families. Domestic violence, trafficking in children and women, and the number of abused children, homeless children having to earn their own living, and children violating the law, tend to increase. The rich-poor polarisation can also cause stratification of social classes, which can lead to dissatisfaction of a certain group of people. The disparity between the rich and the poor, if too great, will lead to attitudes of “hostility” of the poor to the rich. This is revealed in the appearance and existence of a psychology of grudge with wealth, envy against entrepreneurs, and an aversion to successful people who do not fit with the old traditions and concepts. Thus, poverty and hunger breed social inequality. It is not true that the gap between the rich and the poor would be eliminated merely with stepping up the market economy. On the contrary, the freer the market economy is, the wider is the gap between the rich and the poor. The question is how to prevent and restrict the rich-poor polarisation caused by unusual and illicit wealth creation, and by corruption, fraudulent trading and business activities performed in a “snapping and grabbing” fashion in a “twig light” period of a market mechanism, enabled by unreasonable policies formulated by man. At the same time, it is necessary to commend and replicate examples of lawful wealth creation - to a certain extent, they are bright examples for poor people to follow with great efforts. There is the need to encourage and help farmers to get rich legally. On the other hand, it is necessary to improve the living standards of the poor through capacity building and raising their self-consciousness to get out of poverty. Therefore, eradication of the “hunger of knowledge” and the “poverty of awareness” would be the most radical way of hunger eradication and poverty reduction for the sake of sustainable growth and social stability. Providing a poor with a “fishing rod” and teaching him to “fish” effectively and efficiently will be a much more effective way than simply giving him a fish to eat. Therefore, reducing the rich-poor polarisation is the reduction, to the lowest possible level, of the contrast or opposition between the two extremes of richness and poverty in terms of economic conditions and quality of life. This is an important goal which requires the State, policy makers and the entire society to be calm and wise to consider and to resolve in a careful and scientific manner. Conclusion During the renovation process, the Vietnamese Party and the State have made enormous efforts in establishing a system of socio-economic development policies, directly organising the implementation of and creating the consensus of the whole society for the minimisation of the rich-poor polarisation. New effective solutions can only be gradually found with the creativity of the masses under the Party’s correct guidelines. It is from this spirit that the people of Vietnam have found the most clear-sighted path. The Party was determined “to formulate and implement policies suitable with social strata; to solve pressing social problems effectively; to overcome gradually the imbalances in development among sectors and regions; to ensure harmony of interests and social relations, to pay due attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups in the society, and ethnic minorities in highland remote areas, and to reverse the widening trend in the gap between the rich and the poor”.
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About the authors

Quang Hai Dinh

Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Email: dinhquanghai08@gmail.com
Ph.D. (History), Associate Professor, Director of the Institute of History

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