Oxfam’s “Survival of the Richest” Report

According to a new study by Oxfam International, the richest 1% of people in India now own more than 40% of the country’s total wealth, while the bottom half of the population together share just 3% of wealth. The study, titled “Survival of the Richest,” was released on the first day of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

How Can Taxing India’s Billionaires Help Address Inequality?

The report suggests that taxing India’s ten-richest at 5% could fetch enough money to bring children back to school. Additionally, if India’s billionaires were taxed once at 2% on their entire wealth, it would support the requirement of Rs 40,423 crore for the nutrition of malnourished in the country for the next three years. A one-time tax of 5% on the 10 richest billionaires in the country (Rs 1.37 lakh crore) is more than 1.5 times the funds estimated by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry (Rs 86,200 crore) and the Ministry of Ayush (Rs 3,050 crore) for the year 2022-23.

What Impact Does Gender Inequality Have on Earnings?

The report also highlights the impact of gender inequality on earnings. It states that female workers earned only 63 paise for every 1 rupee a male worker earned. For Scheduled Castes and rural workers, the difference is even starker – the former earned 55% of what the advantaged social groups earned, and the latter earned only half of the urban earnings between 2018 and 2019.

How Has the Pandemic Affected India’s Billionaires?

Since the pandemic began in November 2022, billionaires in India have seen their wealth surge by 121% or Rs 3,608 crore per day in real terms, Oxfam said. On the other hand, approximately 64% of the total Rs 14.83 lakh crore in Goods and Services Tax (GST) came from bottom 50% of the population in 2021-22, with only 3% of GST coming from the top 10%. The total number of billionaires in India increased from 102 in 2020 to 166 in 2022.

What Can Be Done to Address Wealth Inequality in India?

Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said, “The country’s marginalized – Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Women and informal sector workers are continuing to suffer in a system which ensures the survival of the richest.” He urged the Union finance minister to implement progressive tax measures such as wealth tax and inheritance tax, which he said have been historically proven to be effective in tackling inequality.

Citing a nationwide survey by Fight Inequality Alliance India (FIA India) in 2021, Oxfam said it found that more than 80% of people in India support tax on the rich and corporations who earned record profits during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 90% participants demanded budget measures to combat inequality such as universal social security, right to health and expansion of budget to prevent gender-based violence.



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