- Wealth of Richest 98 Indians same as bottom 55.2 Crore: Oxfam Report
- Adani, Ambani’s wealth grows 10 times during pandemic; 70 new billionaires in last four years
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Following the exodus of OBC leaders from BJP in UP, the latest Oxfam report on growing inequality in India provides further ammo to the opposition to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his pro-rich policies as crony capitalists such as Adani and Ambani’s fortune soared from Rs 23.14 lakh crore (USD 313 billion) to Rs 53.16 lakh crore (USD 313 billion) (USD 719 billion). Since the opening of the doors to the market economy in 1991, the country has been recognised as one of the most unequal in the world, with inequality rising dramatically during the last three decades.
The report revealed that the income of 84% of households in the country declined in 2021, but at the same time, the number of Indian billionaires grew from 102 to 142 (39% growth).
According to the report, the richest 98 Indians own the same wealth as the bottom 55.20 Crore Indians. During the first 2 waves of the pandemic (March 2020 to November 2021), the wealth of Indian billionaires increased from Rs 23.14 lakh crore (USD 313 billion) to Rs 53.16 lakh crore (USD 719 billion). This growth in the wealth of billionaires (Rs 30.02 lakh crore) is 86% of the Union Budget of FY 21-22 (Rs 34.83 lakh crore).
While India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it is also one of the most unequal countries.
Inequality has been rising sharply for the last three decades. The richest have cornered a huge part of the wealth created through crony capitalism and inheritance.
They are getting richer at a much faster pace while the poor are still struggling to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and healthcare services, which continue to suffer from chronic under-investment.
While the national minimum wage has remained at 178 rupees a day since 2020, Gautam Adani witnessed his net worth multiply by 8 times in one year; from USD 8.9 billion (Rs 65,860 Crores) in 2020 to USD 50.5 billion (Rs. 3.73 Lakh Crores) in 2021. According to Forbes’s real-time data, as of November 24 2021, Adani’s net worth stands at USD 82.2 billion (Rs. 6.08 Lakh Crores). At the same time, Mukesh Ambani’s net worth doubled in 2021 to USD 85.5 billion (Rs. 6.32 Lakh Crores) from USD 36.8 billion (Rs. 2.72 Lakh Crores) in 2020.
These widening gaps and rising inequalities affect women and children the most.
“What is particularly worrying in India’s case is that economic inequality is being added to a society that is already fractured along the lines of caste, religion, region and gender,”sums up Professor Himanshu of Jawaharlal Nehru University
Let’s look at the numbers
1% holds 73% wealth
* The top 10% of the Indian population holds 77% of the total national wealth. 73% of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1%, while 67 million Indians who comprise the poorest half of the population saw only a 1% increase in their wealth.
70 new billionaires in last four years
* Between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce 70 new millionaires every day. There are 119 billionaires in India. Their number has increased from only 9 in 2000 to 101 in 2017.
10 times increase in billionaires’ fortunes
*Billionaires’ fortunes increased by almost 10 times over a decade and their total wealth is higher than the entire Union budget of India for the fiscal year 2018-19, which was at INR 24422 billion.
63 million pushed into poverty
*Many ordinary Indians are not able to access the health care they need. 63 million of them are pushed into poverty because of healthcare costs every year – almost two people every second.
941 yrs requires for wage worker to emulate
*It would take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment company earns in a year.
Healthcare as a luxury good
While the Indian government barely taxes its wealthiest citizens, it’s spending on public healthcare ranks among the lowest in the world. In the place of a well-funded health service, it has promoted an increasingly powerful commercial health sector.
As a result, decent healthcare is a luxury only available to those who have the money to pay for it. While the country is a top destination for medical tourism, the poorest Indian states have infant mortality rates higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa. India accounts for 17% of global maternal deaths and 21% of deaths among children below five years.
When all this was happening, the healthcare budget saw a 10% decline from RE (revised estimates) of 2020-21. There was a 6% cut in allocation for education, and budgetary allocation for social security schemes declined from 1.5% of the total Union budget to 0.6%.
Take the example of Pratima, 32, from Patna who is a casualty of India’s growing inequality. She lives with her husband and 14-year-old daughter in the city of Patna, in Bihar state in eastern India. The family belongs to a marginalized group and lives in one of Patna’s urban slums. Pratima lost her twin babies through delays and poor treatment after she gave birth at her local government clinic.
When she became pregnant, Pratima wasn’t able to get the maternal health services she needed, or the correct advice to prepare for a safe pregnancy and childbirth. Though there is a public primary health center barely 500 meters from her house, it is not equipped to provide antenatal care.
Latching on the report main opposition Congress said this is “MODINOMICS’ in short Unemployment Rate at 7%, Wholesale Inflation at 13.56%, USD to INR at 74+, Decline in the income of 84% household in 2021 and states are responsible for the management of pandemic.
In response to Muslim Mirror’s question that it’s not first Oxfam report flagging about the growing inequality in the country, Congress spokesperson Prof. Gourav Vallabh said “I’ll say it again, but first let me say that we had underlined these points at the time, not just after the report”.
The PM is responsible for this divide. As a result, more than 4.6 crore Indians are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020, nearly half of the global new poor according to the United Nations, said the Spokesperson.
Our first demand is that Modi ji inform the country that after a first wave of covid-19, the wealth of his friends increases eight times while the income of 84 percent of Indians declines, and that he shares that formula with the 84 percent, Prof Vallabh added.