15 shocking facts about inequality in India

15 shocking facts about inequality in India

1) India added 17 new billionaires last year, raising the number to 101 billionaires.

2) Indian billionaires’ wealth increased by INR 4891 billion —from INR 15,778 billion to over INR 20,676 billion. INR 4891 billion is sufficient to finance 85 per cent of the all states' budget on Health and Education.

3) 73 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent, while 67 crore Indians who comprise the poorest half of the population saw one percent increase in their wealth.

4) In the last 12 months the wealth of this elite group increased by Rs 20,913 billion. This amount is equivalent to total budget of Central Government in 2017-18. 

5) 37% of India’s billionaires have inherited (family) wealth. They control 51 per cent of the total wealth of billionaires in the country

6) Only four women billionaires in India and three of them inherited family wealth

7) Between 2018 till 2022, India is estimated to produce 70 new millionaires every day

8) Number of billionaires has increased from only 9 in 2000 to 101 in 2017

9) 51 billionaires out of the total 101 are 65 years or above and own Rs 10,544 billion of total wealth. 

If we assume that in the next 20 years, at least Rs 10,544 billion will be passed on to the inheritors and on that if 30% inheritance tax is imposed, the Government can earn at least Rs 3176 billion. Rs 3176 billion sufficient to finance 6 crucial services--Medical & Public Health, Family Welfare, Water & Sanitation, Housing, Urban Development and Labour & Labour Welfare in all States.

10) Over the next 20 years, 500 of the world’s richest people will hand over $2.4 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.

11) In countries like India and the Philippines, at least one in every two workers in the garment sector are paid below the minimum wage (refer to Figure 9 in the report).

12) It would take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment company earns in a year.

13) It would take around 17.5 days for the best paid executive at a top Indian garment company to earn what a minimum wage worker in rural India will earn in their lifetime (presuming 50 years at work)

14) It would cost around Rs 326 million a year to ensure 14,764 minimum wage workers in rural India were paid a living wage. This is about half the amount paid out to wealth shareholders of a top Indian garment company. 

15) India's top 10% of population holds 73% of the wealth. 

Results of Oxfam Survey 

  • New research by Oxfam seeks to understand perceptions of inequality and support for redistribution policy options.137 Over 70,000 people were surveyed in 10 countries across five continents, representing over one-quarter of the world’s population and more than a third of the world’s GDP. These online surveys collected data from nationally representative samples in the United States, India, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Morocco, the Netherlands and Denmark.
  • In India, specifically among people who think they are poor, seeing where they actually sit in the national income distribution resulted in almost 15% more respondents agreeing it is difficult for a person to increase the amount of money they have despite working hard.
  • 84% Indians agree or strongly agree that the gap between the rich and poor in [country] is too large. 
  • In terms of attitudes and beliefs about inequality, nearly two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be addressed urgently or very urgently. And many have an even stronger sense of urgency: 73% in India, 79%in South Africa, 85% in Nigeria, and 93% in Mexico believe this.
  • There is also strong support for increasing the tax rate for the top 1% of income earners. When asked whether government deficits should be reduced by cutting public services or by increasing taxes on the 1%, over half of respondents selected higher taxes for the 1%. 52% Indians agree that income taxes on the richest 1% of people should be increased.
  • When respondents were asked to choose specific policy options to be put in place to tackle inequality, in nine out of the 10 countries, the four most selected options across countries were:
    1) provide free and high-quality education and medical care;
    2) fight corruption;
    3) raise the minimum wage; and
    4) provide jobs with decent wages.



Oxfam India is calling upon the Indian Government to act on growing inequality and create an equal India. Following are the recommendations:

1. Promote inclusive growth by ensuring that the income of the bottom 40% of the population grows faster than of the top 10% so that the gap between the two begins to close.  This can be done by encouraging labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs; investing in agriculture; and effectively implementing the social protection schemes that exist. 

2. Seal the leaking wealth bucket by taking stringent measures against tax evasion and avoidance; taxing the super-rich by re-introducing inheritance tax, increasing wealth tax, reducing and eventually do away with corporate tax breaks; creating a more equal opportunity country by increasing public expenditure on health and education. 

3. Bring data transparency, produce and make available high quality data on income and wealth. Regularly monitor the measures the government takes to tackle the issue of rising inequality. 


Let’s fight inequality and together we’ll beat poverty for good. 

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