4.6cr Indians slipped into extreme poverty during pandemic, but billionaires’ wealth rose: Oxfam
Ambika Pandit / TNN / Updated: Jan 17, 2022, 15:23 ISTNEW DELHI: A new report on rising inequality highlights that while 4.6 crore Indians are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020, accounting for nearly half of the global ‘new poor’ according to the United Nations, the number of Indian billionaires grew from 102 to 143 during the pandemic period. The collective wealth of India’s 100 richest people hit a record high of Rs 57.3 lakh crore ($775 billion) in 2021.
The analysis is part of the statement released by Oxfam India, based on the ‘Inequality Kills Report: The Davos India Supplement’, that is part of the global report to be released at the World Economic Forum’s virtual event ‘The Davos Agenda’ on Monday.
In India, the wealth of billionaires during the pandemic (from March, 2020 to November 30, 2021) increased from Rs 23.1 lakh crore ($313 billion) to Rs 53.2 lakh crore ($719 billion). In contrast, the report cites the Consumer Pyramid Household Survey data collated by CMIE for 2021 to point that it is estimated that 84% of households in the country suffered a decline in their income in a year marked by unprecedented loss of life and livelihoods.
The data factsheets on wealth highlights that 142 Indian billionaires own more wealth ($719 billion) than 555 million people ($657 billion, bottom 40%). The richest 98 have the same wealth($657 billion) as the poorest 555 million people (bottom 40%). “If each of the 10 richest Indians billionaires were to spend $1 million daily, it would take them 84 years to exhaust their current wealth. Indians billionaires have seen their combined fortunes more than double during the pandemic. Their number shot up by 39%,” the Oxfam statement said.
Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said, “It has never been so important to start righting the wrongs of this obscene inequality by targeting extreme wealth through taxation and getting that money back into the real economy to save lives.” He also highlighted that the pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to 135 years now. Women collectively lost Rs 59.1 lakh crore ($800 billion) in earnings in 2020, with 1.3 crore fewer women in work now than in 2019.
The analysis also shows that allocation towards health in 2021-22 saw a decline of 10% from the previous year in the Union budget, while the allocation towards education in 2021-22 saw an increase of 10% over 2020-21. However, education spending as a percentage of GDP has remained low at 3% and increased only 0.07% over the last 18 years. Similarly health spending as a percentage of GDP has remained abysmally low at 1.2% to 1.6% and increased only 0.09% over the last 22 years.
It is further stated that with 93% of the nation’s workforce comprising workers who fall in the ambit of informal employment, there has been little success in bringing them under the ambit of formal employment. The report calls for focus on laying the legal groundwork for basic social protection for this sector.
Oxfam India recommends that it is important to “recognise inequality is real and agree to measure it” with a robust and transparent data collection mechanism to measure income and wealth inequality.
4.6cr Indians slipped into extreme poverty during pandemic, but billionaires’ wealth rose: Oxfam | India News - Times of India
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Poverty-fighting group Oxfam calculates that the richest Indians more than doubled their fortunes during the Covid-19 era, while poverty worsened markedly.
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