Shock claim on wealth gap -Jayanta Roy Chowdhury
New Delhi: Those who inhabit the top 1 per cent of the wealth pyramid in India own 73 per cent of the wealth generated in the country last year, an NGO has claimed.
In the last 12 months, the "wealth of this elite group increased by Rs 20.91 lakh crore. This amount is equivalent to the total budget of the central government in 2017-18," Oxfam India said in a statement after culling facts and statistics from a report titled "Reward Work, Not Wealth" that was released ahead of meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a keynote speaker at the plenary session on Tuesday.
India added 17 new billionaires last year, raising the number to 101 billionaires. Indian billionaires' wealth increased by Rs 4.89 lakh crore - from Rs 15.78 lakh crore to over Rs 20.67 lakh crore, the report said.
But the piece of statistic that could deeply embarrass Modi is the report's contention that 67 crore Indians, who comprise the poorest half of the population, saw just 1 per cent increase in their wealth.
The Oxfam report said the number of billionaires worldwide increased by an unprecedented rate of one every two days in the 12 months between March 2016 and March 2017. Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13 per cent - six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 per cent.
However, top Indian economists have expressed some doubts about the quality of data used in arriving at these alarming conclusions, which would imply that inequality has risen dramatically in just three years and caution against using such data for policy making.
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The Telegraph, 23 January, 2018, https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/shock-claim-on-wealth-gap-203205?ref=hm-ft-stry-3