India's Inequality: Country's Richest 1% Grew Their Wealth By 39% In 2018, Says Oxfam Report
The fact that India has a sizeable wealth gap is no news, however, a recent Oxfam report states that in 2018 India’s billionaires saw their fortunes swell by Rs 2,200 crore a day. With this, the top 1% of the country’s richest increased their wealth by 39% as compared to just a 3% increase in wealth among the bottom half of the population.
What does the Oxfam report say?
The annual study which was released ahead of the five-day World Economic Forum meet at Davos also stated that globally, fortunes of billionaires rose by 12% or $2.5 billion a day whereas, that of the poorest half of the world declined by 11%. The study, released on January 21 stated that 13.6 crore Indians who make up 10% of the poorest strata of the country have been in debt since 2004.
In absolute terms, the study showed that India’s top 10% holds 77.4% of the total national wealth while the top 1% hold 51.53% of the wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% which consists of the majority of the population, holds a mere 4.8% of the total wealth. Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima reportedly said, “If this obscene inequality between the top 1% and the rest of India continues, it will lead to a complete collapse of the social and democratic structure of this country.” Byanyima also called the wealth inequality to be “morally outrageous”.
According to the report, India in 2018 added 18 new billionaires which pushed the total number to 119. For the first time, their total wealth crossed the Rs 28 lakh crore mark for the first time. Additionally, it said that getting to pay just 0.5% extra tax on the wealth of the top 1% can raise enough money to increase government’s spending on health by 50%. Additionally, between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce around 70 new dollar billionaires every day.
The report also showed that while the country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani’s wealth is Rs 2.8 lakh crore, the combined revenue and capital expenditure of the Centre and state governments on for medical, public health sanitation and water supply is Rs 2,08,166 crore. It said that the governments helped in increasing inequality by underfunding public services while undertaxing the rich.
Reportedly, the report and its calculations were based on data sources which are available publicly like the Forbes billionaires list or Credit Suisse Wealth Databook.