New Delhi: The richest 1 per cent in India hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make for the bottom 70 percent of the country’s population. Releasing the study Time to Care ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), rights group Oxfam also said the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet’s population. It further said women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the Indian economy of at least Rs 19 lakh crore a year, which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 (Rs 93,000 crore).
Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said “The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these.”
Regarding India, Oxfam said the combined total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires is higher than the total Union Budget of India for the fiscal year 2018-19 which was at Rs 24,42,200 crore.
“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Mr. Behar said.
The report also states that 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 Rs 106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what a domestic worker would make in one year.
The report also stated that direct public investments in the care economy of 2 per cent of GDP would potentially create 11 million new jobs and make up for the 11 million jobs lost in 2018.
Behar said the gap between rich and poor cannot be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these. He said women and girls are among those who benefit the least from today’s economic system.“They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving. “It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy, added Behar.
Oxfam said governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women and tackle poverty and inequality.
Besides, the governments are also under-funding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls’ workload, the report said. As per the global survey, the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa. Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the global economy of at least USD 10.8 trillion a year, more than three times the size of the global tech industry.
Getting the richest one per cent to pay just 0.5 per cent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health. Governments must prioritize care as being as important as all other sectors in order to build more human economies that work for everyone, not just a fortunate few, Behar said.
Oxfam said its calculations are based on the latest data sources available, including from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Databook 2019 and Forbes’ 2019 Billionaires List.