Richest 1% holds on four times the wealth held by 95 crore Indians: Oxfam report

Richest 1% holds on four times the wealth held by 95 crore Indians: Oxfam report

The top 1 per cent of Indians holds over for times the amount of wealth held by 953 million people (95.3 crore) or the bottom 70 per cent of the population in the country, revealed a new report from Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Oxfam's report, 'Time to Care', shows how "sexist economies" are fuelling inequality enabling wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people.

 The issues of income and gender inequality are expected to figure prominently in discussions at the five-day summit of the WEF, which starts today. The WEF's annual Global Risks Report has also warned the downward pressure on the global economy from macroeconomic fragilities and financial inequality continued to intensify in 2019. In the report, Oxfam reveals some startling facts on income and gender inequality in India.

The report flags the total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires was higher than last year's Union Budget of India 2018-2019. Highlighting the number of billionaires all over the world has doubled in the last decade, the report says the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet's population. "Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist," said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who is in Davos to represent the Oxfam confederation this year.

The report says women and girls are among those who benefit least from today's economic system. It would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a tech company makes in one year, it reveals. "With earnings pegged at Rs 106 per second, the CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what the domestic worker would make in one year," says the report.

Women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day -- a contribution to the Indian economy of at least Rs 19 lakh crore a year; which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 (Rs 93,000 crore). "Direct public investments in the care economy of 2 per cent of GDP would potentially create 11 million new jobs. This would make up for the 11 million jobs lost in 2018," the report concluded.

The report also shows governments across the world are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women and tackle poverty and inequality.  

Governments are also underfunding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls' workload, it added. For example, investments in water and sanitation, electricity, childcare, healthcare could free up women's time and improve their quality of life.

"Governments created the inequality crisis -- they must act now to end it. They must ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and increase investment in public services and infrastructure. They must pass laws to tackle the huge amount of care work done by women and girls, and ensure that people who do some of the most important jobs in our society -- caring for our parents, our children and the most vulnerable -- are paid a living wage," said Behar.