A new report by Oxfam titled ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ released on Monday has said that 73 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent, while 67 crore Indians comprising the poorest half of the population saw one percent increase in their wealth.
In a startling revelation, the report said that the wealth of ‘this elite group’ increased by a whopping Rs 20,913 billion in the last 12 months. This amount, the report added, is equivalent to the total budget of central government in 2017-18.
The report was released ahead of the World Economic Forum meet in Davos in Switzerland, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi too addressed the plenary session on Tuesday. Speaking at the WEF in Davos, Modi stressed that India’s GDP had increased six times to around $400 bn since the time the last prime minister of India ‘came here’ in 1997.
Taking a dig at PM Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi quoted the Oxfam report and asked him to tell the delegates in Davos ‘why 1% of India’s population gets 73% of its wealth?’
He asked, “Dear PM, Welcome to Switzerland! Please tell DAVOS why 1% of India’s population gets 73% of its wealth? I’m attaching a report for your ready reference.”
India added 17 new billionaires last year, raising the number to 101 billionaires. Indian billionaires’ wealth increased by Rs 4891 billion —from Rs 15,778 billion to over Rs 20,676 billion.
Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India told Oxfam, “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.”
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.
Oxfam India asked PM Modi to to ensure our economy works for everyone and not just the fortunate few. It called upon the central government to 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.