New Delhi, Jan 17 (UNI): Pandemic may have led to suffering and decline in income for the poor and vulnerable sections of the society but India’s rich got richer during the crisis of the century.
While 84% of households suffered a decline in their income in a year due to loss of life and livelihoods, the number of Indian billionaires grew from 102 to 142, an Oxfam report has revealed.
In India, during the pandemic (March 2020 to November 2021), the wealth of billionaires increased from Rs 23.14 lakh crore ($313 billion) to Rs 53.16 lakh crore ($719 billion).
“More than 4.6 crore Indians, meanwhile, are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 (nearly half of the global new poor according to the UN). The stark wealth inequality in India is a result of an economic system rigged in favour of the super-rich over the poor and marginalised,” said the Oxfam report.
The report suggested a 1% surcharge on the richest 10% of the Indian population to fund inequality combating measures such as higher investments in school education, universal healthcare and social security benefits like maternity leaves, paid leaves and pension for all Indians.
Published ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda, the report said that inequality was contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day or one person every four seconds.
“Extreme inequality is a form of economic violence where policies and political decisions that perpetuate the wealth and power of a privileged few results in direct harm to the vast majority of people across the world and the planet itself,” said Evelien van Roemburg, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office.
The report noted that 10 richest men doubled their fortunes during the pandemic while income of the 99% fell.