Richest 1 percent bagged 73 percent of wealth created last year - poorest half of India got 1 percent, says Oxfam India
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.
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.
Globally, 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while 3.7 billion people that account for the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, says a new Oxfam report ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ released today.
The report is being launched ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where political and business elites from across the world will gather.
The report reveals how the global economy enables wealthy elite to accumulate vast wealth even as hundreds of millions of people struggle to survive on poverty pay.
- The number of billionaires 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 percent a year since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent.
- It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her entire lifetime. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.
- It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector last year.
Oxfam’s report outlines the key factors driving up rewards for shareholders and corporate bosses at the expense of workers’ pay and conditions. These include the erosion of workers’ rights; the excessive influence of big business over government policy-making; and the relentless corporate drive to minimize costs in order to maximize returns to shareholders.
India added 17 new billionaires last year, raising the number to 101 billionaires. Indian billionaires’ wealth increased by INR 4891 billion —from INR 15,778 billion to over INR 20,676 billion.
Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India said: “It is alarming that the benefits of economic growth in India continue to concentrate in fewer hands. The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicines for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism.”
Women workers often find themselves at the bottom of the heap. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and are concentrated in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men. In India, there are only four women billionaires and three of them inherited family wealth.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the World Economic Forum at Davos. Oxfam India is calling upon the Indian government to ensure our economy works for everyone and not just the fortunate few:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Results of a new global survey commissioned by Oxfam demonstrates a groundswell of support for action on inequality. Of the 70,000 people surveyed in 10 countries, nearly two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.
84% Indians agreed that the gap between the rich and poor in the country is too large and 73% want the Indian government to urgently reduce the difference in income between the rich and poor.
“People in India are ready for change. They want to see workers paid a living wage; they want corporations and the superrich to pay more tax; they want women workers to enjoy the same rights as men; they want a limit on the power and the wealth which sits in the hands of so few. They want action towards an economy that works for all, development that uplift the billions and not the billionaires alone,” said Agrawal.
Notes to editors
Oxfam report ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ and a methodology document that outlines how Oxfam arrived at the key statistics in the report, is attached here.
RIWI and YouGov conducted the online survey for Oxfam in ten countries: India, Nigeria, United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Morocco, Netherlands and Denmark.
Oxfam’s calculations are based on global wealth distribution data provided by the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book 2017. The wealth of billionaires was calculated using Forbes' billionaires list last published in March 2017.
Broadcast quality footage and photographs available featuring Lan, who works in a garment factory in Vietnam, supplying many global fashion brands. https://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=34775&k=ae837a41d2
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