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Richest 1% in India holds 73% of wealth

A survey released by the International rights group Oxfam mentioned that the richest 1% in India hold 73% of the wealth generated in the country last year. This presented a worrying picture of rising income inequality in the country. There is a similar situation across the globe as 82% of the total wealth that was generated in 2017 went to only 1% of the population and 3.7 billion people that account for the poorest half of the population saw no rise in their wealth.

Last year’s survey showed that the richest 1% in India held 58% of the country’s total wealth which is higher than the global figure of 50%. The survey shows that the wealth has increased by INR 20.9 lakh crore in 2017 that is an amount equivalent to total budget of the central government in 2017-18. The report reveals how the global economy enables wealthy elite to accumulate vast wealth as millions of people struggle to survive on poverty pay.

The report said 2017 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of billionaires at a rate of one every two days. The wealth of billionaires have risen by an average of 13 per cent a year since 2010, which is six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers that have risen by a yearly average of only 2 per cent. It will take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in India to earn what the top executive at a leading firm is paid in a year. In US, it takes a little more than one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.

The report surveyed 70,000 people in 10 countries and demonstrates a groundswell support for action on inequality and majority respondents think that the gap between the rich and poor needs to be urgently addressed. The report asked the government to promote inclusive growth by encouraging sectors that will create more jobs and investing into agriculture. It seeks stringent measures against tax evasion and avoidance by imposing higher tax on super rich and removing the corporate tax breaks.

India added 17 new billionaires last year, taking the number to 101. The wealth of Indian billionaires increased to INR 20.7 lakh crore, which is an amount sufficient to finance 85 percent of all states’ budget on education and health. Further, the top 10 per cent of the population holds 73 percent of the wealth and 37 percent of the country’s billionaires have inherited family wealth. They control 51 per cent of the total wealth of the billionaires in the country. The results of the survey reflect on the current condition where women are at the bottom and nine out of 10 billionaires in the country are men. There are only four women billionaires and three out of four have inherited family wealth.

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