“Inequality Kills”: The Oxfam Report

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    A recent Oxfam report stated that the income of 84 percent of households in the country declined in 2021.

    Image Courtesy: trtworld

    Key Findings

    • Billionaires:
      • The number of Indian billionaires grew from 102 to 142 in the backdrop of a stark income divide worsened by the Covid pandemic.
      • India has the third highest number of billionaires in the world, just behind China and the United States, says the report, with more billionaires than France, Sweden and Switzerland combined — a 39 per cent increase in the number of billionaires in India in 2021.
    • Richest and bottom most people wealth:
      • In 2021, the collective wealth of India’s 100 richest people hit a record high of Rs 57.3 lakh crore (USD 775 billion). 
      • In the same year, the share of the bottom 50 percent of the population in national wealth was a mere 6 per cent.
      • During the pandemic (since March 2020, through to November 30, 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). 
      • The report described the inequality as economic violence, adding that it was contributing to the death of 21,000 people every day due to a lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger and climate change.
    • Extreme poverty:
      • More than 4.6 crore Indians, meanwhile, are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020
    • Healthcare budget:
      • India’s healthcare budget saw a 10% decline from RE (revised estimates) of 2020-21. 
    • Education budget:
      • There was a 6% cut in allocation for education.
    • Social security budget:
      • The budgetary allocation for social security schemes declined from 1.5% of the total Union budget to 0.6%., nearly half of the global new poor.
    • Gender Parity:
      • The pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to now 135 years. 
      • Women collectively lost Rs 59.11 lakh crore (USD 800 billion) in earnings in 2020, with 1.3 crore fewer women in work now than in 2019. 
      • 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.
    • Taxes:
      • The increase in indirect taxes as a share of the Union government revenue lasted four years, while the proportion of corporate tax in the same was declining. The additional tax imposed on fuel has risen 33 per cent in the first six months of 2020-21 as compared to the last year, 79 per cent more than pre-Covid levels. 
      • At the same time, the wealth tax “for the super-rich’’ was abolished in 2016.
    • Out of Pocket Expenditure:
      • Data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) (2017-18) shows that Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) in private hospitals is almost six times of that in public hospitals for inpatient care, and two or three times higher for outpatient care. 
      • The average OOPE in India is at 62.67 per cent, while the global average is at 18.12 per cent.
    • Federal Structure:
      • Despite the country’s federal structure, the structure of revenue kept the reins of resources in the Centre’s hands and yet the management of the pandemic was left to the states – who were not equipped to handle it with its financial or human resources.

    Way Ahead

    • A 99% one-off windfall tax on the Covid-19 wealth gains of the 10 richest men alone would generate $812bn. 
    • These resources could pay to make enough vaccines for the entire world and fill financing gaps in climate measures, universal health and social protection, and efforts to address gender-based violence in over 80 countries.
    • The world can create an economy in which nobody lives in poverty, nor with unimaginable billionaire wealth—in which inequality no longer kills.

    OXFAM

    • Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty
    • It was founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. 
    • It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.
    • HQ at Nairobi, Kenya.
    • Vision: A world where people and the planet are at the centre of our economy. Where women and girls live free from violence and discrimination. Where the climate crisis is contained. And where governance systems are inclusive and allow for those in power to be held to account.

    Source: IE