High Income Inequality in India

In News

A report released by Oxfam has shown that income inequality is high in the country with the top 1% of the population holding wealth four times more wealth than 70% of the population.

In-Detail

  • Oxfam, the rights group had released a study titled “Time to Care” at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) Summit in Davos.
  • As per the study, 2,153 billionaires of the world have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make 60% of the world’s population.
  • The report notes that global inequality is entrenched and vast.
  • In the last decade, the number of billionaires has doubled despite their combined wealth being declined in the last year.
  • Oxfam argues for inequality-busting policies to resolve the rich-poor divide.
  • But, it states that too few governments are committed to deploying such policies.
  • At the WEF Summit, the Global Risk Report released by WEF also warned that the pressure on the global economy due to macroeconomic fragilities and financial inequality continued to intensify in 2019. 
  • As per the report, the recent social unrest in almost all continents is due to inequality. Though the tipping points may vary like corruption in some cases, constitutional breaches or rise in prices of basic services, etc.
  • The report further notes that global inequality has declined in recent years, domestic inequality has risen in many countries. The trend is majorly in advanced economies where inequality has risen to historic highs.

India Scenario

  • As per Oxfam’s study, the total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires is higher than the union budget of 2018-19 which was Rs. 24,42,200 crore.
  • In today’s economic system of India, women and girls benefit the least.
  • They are unpaid for their billions of hours of work which includes cooking, cleaning and caring for the children, the elderly and the family.
  • As per the report, women and girls put 3.26 billion hours of work in such unpaid care.
  • This is a contribution of Rs. 19 lakh crore a year to the Indian economy.
  • Oxfam notes that they are the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the economy, businesses and societies moving.
  • Women who have little education, who do not have a say in society, who cannot earn a decent living are the ones who are trapped at the bottom of the economy.
  • As such, Oxfam notes that “sexist” economies are making inequality to flourish with elite accumulating more while ordinary people and women and girls are pushed into poverty.
  • As per the report, a domestic female worker takes 22,277 years to earn the same amount of money that a CEO of a tech company makes in one year.
  • A CEO makes Rs. 106 per second which means a domestic worker will take one year to earn that much amount that a CEO takes 10 minutes to earn.

Under-Taxing

  • One of the major reasons for the rise in inequality the report sights is under-taxation.
  • Governments across the world are massively under-taxing the wealthy individuals and corporations.
  • Thus, governments are failing to collect revenue that will help uplift the lives of women and girls.
  • As per the report, making the richest to pay 0.5% extra tax for the next 10 years will lead to the generation of 117 million jobs across sectors like elderly and childcare, health and education.
  • Oxfam prepared the report based on the data from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Databook 2019 and Forbes’ 2019 Billionaires List.

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