Oxfam's "Inequality Kills" Report: 2021 saw Income of 84% Households Fall
By: Sashwata Saha
Even as 84% of households in India suffered a decline in their income between 2020-21, marked by pandemic driven losses in life and livelihood, the number of billionaires in the country grew to 142 from 102, shows the latest economic report titled ‘Inequality Kills’ by Oxfam India.
The report released on Sunday ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda found that as the pandemic continued to ravage India, the country’s healthcare budget saw a 10% decline from the revised estimates of 2020-21. “There was a 6% cut in allocation for education,” the report notes, “while the budgetary allocation for social security schemes declined from 1.5% of the total Union budget to 0.6%.”
Another vital point that was brought up by the briefing is that of economic violence. This refers to violence perpetrated by poverty. This includes forced abortions because the family feels that it would be unable to bear the cost of another child, violence perpetrated on women when the men in their families snatch away their income and violence inflicted upon the elderly if the family considers them to be a ‘burden’.
Oxfam India notes that there has been a 35% uptick in such cases based on data mined from the National Crime Records Bureau’s annual report.
‘Inequality Kills’ further suggests that despite the country’s federal structure, the revenue structure kept the reins of resources in the Centre’s hands, but the management of the pandemic was left to the states, who were not equipped to handle it with their limited resources.
The briefing also shows that the collective wealth of India’s 100 wealthiest people hit a record high of Rs 57.3 lakh crore or about US$ 775 billion last year. In conclusion to its briefing, Oxfam India advocates a 1% surcharge on the wealthiest 10% of the Indian population to fund higher investments in school education, universal healthcare, and social security benefits such as maternity leave, paid leave and pension for all Indians.
Historically, India has always been more dependent on indirect taxes. In 2000, indirect taxation accounted for 63.69% of the total tax revenue. As the report notes, even during the pandemic, the government revenue has remained highly dependent on indirect taxes – especially the tax levied on the sale and manufacture of goods and services that ordinary Indians depend upon.
“The ‘Inequality Kills’ briefing shows how deeply unequal our economic system is and how it fuels not only inequality but poverty as well. We urge the Government of India to commit to an economic system which creates a more equal and sustainable nation,” Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India, said in a press statement.
India has the third-highest number of billionaires globally, just behind China and the United States, with more billionaires than France, Sweden, and Switzerland combined, following a 39% increase in the number of billionaires in India in 2021.
Join India’s only non-profit Student Journalism platform and put your students ahead in the race. For more information, write to us at email@example.com.