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What is Inequality?

It is the huge gap between the super rich and the rest of the world population. This divide traps millions in poverty, fracturing our societies and undermining democracy. This broken system favours the super-rich, allows big business and the billionaires to gather vast amounts of money at the expense of rest of us. Extreme inequality fuels corruption.
Watch Oxfam India CEO, Nisha Agarwal explain the risks of rising inequality.

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At the World Economic Forum 2018, Davos, we ask the Indian government to make a commitment to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.

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How is Inequality affecting you and me?

Because so much wealth is concentrated with the super rich, very few resources trickle down to those who need them the most- the marginalised and the underprivileged.

Popular belief has it that working hard is the key to becoming wealthier. Yet, many of the super rich do not earn their fortunes through hard work or talent. Two-thirds of billionaires globally have inherited their wealth or made it through monopoly rather than talent.The CEO of India’s top information firm earns 416 times the salary of a typical employee in his company. The rewards of a growing economy are enjoyed by billionaires and company bosses.

In addition, the top wealthiest people have the means to stash their wealth in offshore tax havens to dodge taxes. If fairly paid, these taxes could help government provide essential services which means quality education and healthcare for everyone in India.

5 Myths about inequality

Poor people are poor as they are lazy The CEO of India’s top information firm earns 416 times the salary of a typical employee in his company.

Poverty is reducing and so is Inequality One may experience inequality without being poor whereas everyone who is poor is at the bottom rung of inequality ladder. The World Bank has estimated that extreme poverty will not be eliminated by 2030 - and 200 million will still be living on Rs 120 a day (the extreme poverty line).

Inequality is a natural outcome from healthy competition The huge inequalities we see today are the result of a rigged economic system that has enabled a small minority to amass huge fortunes through monopoly, cronyism and inheritance.

All billionaires have worked hard to earn money Over two thirds of billionaire wealth is amassed through monopoly, cronyism and inheritance. Over the next 20 years, 500 of the world’s richest people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.

It is not realistic to bridge the gap between rich and poor It is possible. Evidence from more than 150 countries, rich and poor alike, shows that investment in healthcare, education and social protection reduces inequality.

How can you help?

Successive governments have failed to commit to reducing inequality in India. By raising your voice, you can urge the government to tackle inequality head on. Commitment at an influential international forum such as the World Economic Forum 2018, Davos will ensure that the government keeps it promise to the Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reducing Inequality by 2030.

Ask the government to do the following :

Create an economy for all: 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:

• Promoting labour-intensive sectors that will create more jobs;

• Investing more in agriculture; and

• Implementing fully the social protection schemes that exist.

Seal the leaking wealth bucket: Reduce extreme wealth and create a more equal opportunity country.

• Tax the super-rich by re-introducing inheritance tax and increasing the wealth tax;

• Reduce and eventually do away with corporate tax breaks;

• Take stringent measures against tax evasion and tax avoidance; and

• Increase public expenditures on health and education.

Bring data transparency: Produce and make available high quality data on income and wealth. And regularly monitor the measures the government takes to tackle the issue of rising inequality.

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