India’s wealthiest have more than doubled their fortunes during the Covid-19 crisis that has ravaged the country and deepened poverty, and the government should review its wealth redistribution policies, says Oxfam’s global report Davos from 2022.
The nation added 40 billionaires to 142 last year when a second wave of infections overwhelmed its health care infrastructure and pushed crematoriums and cemeteries to breaking point. They have nearly $720 billion in combined wealth, more than the poorest 40% of the population, the group said in a report on rising inequality released on Monday.
Wealth has increased globally during the pandemic as the value of everything from stock prices to crypto and commodities surged. The world’s 500 richest people added more than $1 trillion to their net worth last year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. India, where urban unemployment soared to 15% last May and food insecurity worsened, now has more billionaires than France, Sweden and Switzerland combined, Oxfam said.
State policies including the abolition of a wealth tax in 2016, deep cuts in corporate taxes and an increase in indirect taxation are among the factors that have helped the rich get richer, while the national minimum wage has remained at 178 rupees ($2.4) a day since. 2020, says the Indian supplement to the global report. The reduction of federal funding to local governments in the context of increasing privatizations in the health and education sectors has further accentuated inequalities. The nation is home to a quarter of the world’s undernourished people, Oxfam said, citing the World Food Programme.
“Unfortunately, not only has the Indian government’s fiscal policy been pro-rich, but it has also deprived Indian states of significant fiscal resources, both of which are particularly damaging in the context of the Covid-19 crisis,” the report said. .
Oxfam recommends that the government impose a 1% surtax on the richest 10% of the population to invest in health and education. He notes that the wealth of India’s 10 richest billionaires would be enough to fund school and higher education for the country’s children for more than 25 years.
With 84% of households experiencing a drop in income at the start of the pandemic, India is in line with sub-Saharan Africa which has recorded the largest increase in poverty. In 2020, the number of poor people in the South Asian nation doubled to 134 million, more than a Pew study had estimated, Oxfam said. Daily workers, the self-employed and the unemployed committed the most suicides, he added, citing official crime data.
The report also pointed out that the leaked Pandora Papers – a collection of 11.9 million documents detailing 29,000 offshore companies and private trusts set up around the world for tax evasion – revealed that more than 380 Indians held 200 billion rupees. foreign and domestic undeclared assets.
Gautam Adani had India’s biggest increase in wealth last year and the fifth largest in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He added $42.7 billion to his fortune, which now stands at nearly $90 billion. Mukesh Ambani’s net worth soared by $13.3 billion in 2021, and he is now valued at $97 billion.
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