The top one per cent of India’s richest owned more than 40.5 per cent of the country’s total wealth in 2021, highlighted a new report from Oxfam. The report mentioned that the number of billionaires in India rose from 102 in 2020 to 166 in the last year.
On the other hand, the Oxfam report also mentioned that the poor in India “are unable to afford even basic necessities to survive.”
The charitable organization went on to urge the finance minister of India to impose a wealth tax on the nation’s uber rich so as to tackle the “obscene” inequality. The report titled ‘Survival of The Richest’ was released in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.
It pointed out that are is astonishingly large disparity in the wealth distribution in India stating that more than 40 per cent of the wealth that was generated in India between 2012 and 2021 had gone to just one per cent of the population. Moreover, only three per cent of people trickled down to the bottom 50 per cent.
India’s richest man Gautam Adani’s wealth rose by 46 per cent in 2022. The combined wealth of India’s 100 richest people touched USD 660 billion.
Adani stood second on the Bloomberg Wealth Index’s ‘richest person in the world’ list in 2022, while topping the list of people whose wealth rose the most globally in the year.
Meanwhile, the poor and middle classes of India were taxed more than the rich, said Oxfam. Around 64 per cent of the total goods and service tax (GST) in the country came from the bottom 50 per cent of the population, the report mentioned adding that only four per cent came from the top 10 per cent population.
Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said, “India is unfortunately on a fast track to becoming a country only for the rich. The country's marginalised - Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, women and informal sector workers are continuing to suffer in a system which ensures the survival of the richest.”
The report further mentioned that the rich in India are currently benefiting from reduced corporate taxes, tax exemption and several other incentives. The charity asked the finance minister to bring in progressive tax measures like wealth tax in the upcoming budget in order to correct this disparity.
Glaringly, only a two per cent tax on the entire wealth of India’s billionaires will be enough to support the nutrition of the country’s malnourished population for the next three years, the report underlined. Similarly, only a one per cent wealth tax would suffice to fund the National Health Mission, the largest healthcare scheme in India for over a year and a half.
Oxfam said that by taxing the top 100 Indian billionaires at 2.5 per cent or taxing the top 10 billionaires at five per cent, would be nearly sufficient in bringing around 150 million children back to school.
The executive director of Oxfam International, Gabriela Bucher said, “"It's time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow 'trickling down' to everyone else.”
Taxing the super-rich was necessary so as to reduce “inequality and resuscitating democracy,” she added.
(With inputs from BBC)