COVID deepened inequality in India: Oxfam Report

Why in News?

Oxfam has released a report titled “Inequality Virus Report”. The report has highlighted the increasing inequalities in India.

Facts:

  • About the report: It is a part of its international report released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Davos Dialogues.’
  • The report states that COVID-19 has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once.

Key Takeaways:

  • Impact of the Pandemic: The wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35% during the lockdown and by 90% since 2009 to USD 422.9 billion. It ranks  India sixth in the world after the USA, China, Germany, Russia, and France.
    • The Income rise of the top 100 billionaires since the lockdown in March is enough to give a cheque of ₹94,045 to each of 138 million poorest Indian people.
    • The wealth earned by top 11 billionaires during the pandemic, can sustain the MGNREGS or the Health Ministry for the next 10 years.
  • Informal Sector: Out of the total 12.2 crore people who lost their jobs in India, 75% of jobs were lost in the informal sector.
  • Education: As Education shifted online, the digital divide worsened inequalities in India. Only 4% of rural households had a computer and less than 15% of rural households had an internet connection.
  • Sanitation: Out of the poorest 20%, only 6% have access to non-shared sources of improved sanitation. It is 93.4% among the top 20%. It added that 59.6% of India’s population lives in a room or less.
  • Women: The unemployment for women rose by 15% from a pre-lockdown level. This increase in unemployment of women can result in a loss to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 8% or USD 218 billion.

Suggestions:

  • Wealth Tax: It recommends re-introducing wealth tax and a one-time COVID-19 cess of 4% on taxable income of over ₹10 lakh. It will help the economy to recover from the lockdown. According to its estimate, a wealth tax on the nation’s 954 richest families could raise the equivalent of 1% of India’s GDP.
  • Concrete Actions: The government of India should take specific and concrete actions that will build a better future, more equal, and just a future for everyone.

Source: The Hindu

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