As per a report titled ‘An economy for the 99 per cent’ released by rights group Oxfam on January 16, 2017, the richest 1 percent of the population in India holds 58 percent of the country’s total wealth which is higher than the global figure of 50 percent.
- The report aims to provide a platform to the countries to build a human economy that benefits every section of the society and not just the privileged few.
Findings of the Study
The report found that since 2015, the richest 1 percent population in India has continued to own more wealth than the rest of the countries.
- Besides, it also discovered that 57 billionaires in India having collective wealth of USD 216 billion was equal to the wealth that lowest 70 percent population held. However, when taken globally only 8 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the world population.
- The study stated that India has 84 billionaires with a collective wealth of USD 248 billion. The total Indian wealth in the country was calculated at USD 3.1 trillion. Top 3 billionaires comprised of Mukesh Ambani (USD 19.3 billion), Dilip Shanghvi (USD 16.7 billion) and Azim Premji (USD 15 billion).
- In contrast, the total global wealth in 2016 was USD 255.7 trillion. Of this, the top three global billionaires held about USD 6.5 trillion which comprised of Bill Gates (USD 75 billion), Amancio Ortega (USD 67 billion) and Warren Buffett (USD 60.8 billion).
- The study also noted that in the next 20 years, 500 people in India would hand over about USD 2.1 trillion to their inheritors. This sum of money is larger than the GDP of India.
- Speaking about the last two decades, the report said that the richest 10 percent of the population in countries like China, Indonesia, Laos, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka witnessed that their share of income increased by more than 15 per cent while the poorest 10 percent saw a deline in their share of income by more than 15 percent.
- In case of women, the report said that women in Asia are generally paid low wages than male population mainly due to gender discrimination and working in low-pay sector.
- The study also notified that the Global Wage Report 2016-17 showed that India suffers from huge gender pay gap and has among the worst levels of gender wage disparity with men earning 30 percent more than women in similar jobs.
- More than 40% of the 400 million women living in rural India are involved in agriculture and related activities but as women are not recognized as farmers and do not own land, they have limited access to government schemes and credit, restricting their agricultural productivity.
Suggestions for Indian Government
Based on the findings, the report suggested the Indian government to take steps to end concentration of wealth to only fewer sections to end poverty. It also said to introduce inheritance tax and increase the wealth tax. Wealth tax in total tax revenue is the lowest in India.
- It suggested not to reduce the corporate tax rate further besides eliminating tax exemptions. Governments must support companies that benefit their workers and society rather than just their shareholders.
- Further the Indian government must take strict steps against those corporate and individuals who do tax dodging.
- Government should take steps to generate funds to boost healthcare and education sector. It suggested to increase the public expenditure on health from 1 % GDP to 3% of GDP and on education from 3% of GDP to 6%.
Oxfam is an international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty.
- Headquarters: Oxford
- CEO: Mark Goldring
- Founded: 1942