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Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 13:30 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 07:47 [IST]

Wide open

The widening gap between rich and poor has further widened. And it’s not good news. 
According to an Oxfam International report, titled Time To Care, global inequality is “out of control". The recent report on Monday showed that India's richest 1% of the population hold 42.5% of national wealth while the bottom 50%, the majority of the population, owns a mere 2.8%. According to an Oxfam report, India's top 10% of the population holds 74.3% of the total national wealth while the bottom 90% holds 25.7% of national wealth. The report said that the number of billionaires since the global financial crisis has nearly doubled with a new billionaire created every two days.
Over the last year, the total wealth of India has increased by US$ 625.5 billion. The wealth of the top 1% increased by 46% while the bottom 50% saw wealth increase at just 3%., the report said.
Analysis of billionaire wealth showed that there are 15 billionaires from the consumer goods industry and more than 10 billionaires from the pharmaceuticals industry in 2019. Another figure that shows growing inequality in the country is that the wealth of top 9 billionaires is equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 50% of the population.
Persistent inequality has negative implications for macroeconomic stability and inclusive economic growth. Wealth concentrations can lead to decision-making power being restricted to a few while also resulting in significant adverse social impacts such as rising crime, the report noted. Rising inequality also compromises the pace of poverty reduction and compounds inequalities between various social groups such as men and women in terms of access to health, education, and opportunities, it said. According to the report, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year. With earnings pegged at ?106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what an average domestic worker would make in one year.
Blame has duly been assigned to biased economic systems that tend to disadvantage women while allowing billionaires to amass huge fortunes of their own. This, of course, is the view of Oxfam, the famous do-gooder organization that doesn’t lay much store by capitalism. But facts are facts. If 22 of the world’s richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa, it tells us something about male dominance. And if the wealth of 63 Indian billionaires taken together exceeds the sum at New Delhi’s disposal in last year’s Budget, it speaks of how poorly we’re living up to the country’s egalitarian ideals.
Before anyone jumps to decry billionaires, it must be noted that it’s an apples-vs-oranges comparison. Unlike a budget, their wealth is not an annual figure of the money at their disposal. It’s a stock, not a flow, and it’s mostly locked up in assets. Mostly, they’re so rich because the market value of their assets is high. If they start selling some of these (shares, for example), their value could crash. Of course, they could still use their funds for philanthropic ends.
The causes of inequality should get more attention. Why women own and earn so little—most put in plenty of unpaid labour—needs to be addressed socially.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi