Top 1% of Indians own 40.5% percent wealth, bottom 50% has around 3% - Oxfam Inequality report

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published Published on Jan 15, 2023   modified Modified on Mar 22, 2023

Following the pandemic, the income of the bottom 50 per cent of the population is estimated at 13 percent of national income and 3 percent of total wealth

Apoorva Mahendru, Kanishk Gomes, Mayurakshi Dutta, Noopur, Pravas Ranjan Mishra

Oxfam International's annual inequality report makes for stark reading. The India supplement, part of the main report, states that the top 1 percent of Indians own nearly 40.6 percent of the total wealth in the nation. In contrast to this, half the population, the bottom 50 percent, own only 3 percent of wealth. While India still has the world’s highest number of poor at 228.9 million, the number of billionaires increased from 102 in 2020 to 166 in 2022. Here are some other startling figures: The combined wealth of India’s 100 richest has touched Rs. 54.12 lakh crore, while the wealth of the top 10 stands at INR 27.52 lakh crore – a 32.8 per cent rise from 2021.  

In 2019 the Union Government reduced corporate income tax slabs from 30 percent to 22 per cent. This resulted in a loss of Rs. 1.84 lakh crore and resulted in a 10 percent revision downwards of revenue estimates in 2019-20. To increase revenue, the Union Government hiked the Goods and Services Tax and excise duties on diesel and petrol. The indirect nature of both the GST and fuel taxes make them regressive, which invariably burdens the most marginalized. In 2020-21, the projected revenue foregone from incentives and tax exemptions to corporates was Rs. 1.03 lakh crore, which is slightly more than the allocation towards the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The failure to tax rich people and corporations fairly is a missed opportunity to reduce inequality.

Oxfam India recommends the folowing:

* Taxing the wealth of the richest 1 per cent. The wealthiest elites have undue influence over policy making and politics, which allow them to accrue even more wealth. This means taxing the net wealth of the top 1 percent on a permanent basis.

* Easing the tax burden on the poor and the marginalized. The government should reduce the GST slabs on essential commodities and hike taxes on luxury goods. 

* Enhance the budgetary allocation for health to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025, as envisaged in the National Health Policy, to reinvigorate the public healthcare system. 

* Enhance the budgetary allocation for education to a global benchmark of 6 percent of GDP, as committed in the National Education Policy. The government must frame a year wise financial roadmap to achieve the 6 per cent mark. 

* Strengthen safety nets and bargaining power of labour. Inflation hurts the poor and middle class more. 90 percent of India’s labour force in the informal economy is without any safety net to
 protect them from the heavy blows to the economy. To this end, it is essential to ensure social protection for our workforce. 

Please click here to read the report

Oxfam India, 15 January, 2023, 

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