India’s billionaires hold a combined total wealth that is more than the Union Budget outlay. The gap between the top 1 per cent and the bottom 50 per cent of the population just keeps expanding, global non-profit organisation Oxfam said in its latest annual report on income inequality. “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 trillion,” Oxfam said in its report released on Monday. “The wealth of billionaires rose from $325.5 billion (Rs 22.73 trillion) in 2017 to $408 billion (Rs 28.97 trillion) in 2019,” the report said. In fact, that amount is even higher than the 2019-20 Budget size of Rs 27.86 trillion, something the report did not mention. 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, the report also showed. “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,” said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar An analysis of India’s billionaires showed that 15 of them come from the consumer goods industry and more than 10 from the pharmaceuticals sector in 2019 – a rarity among developing countries. In fact, not just in India, but global inequality is deeply entrenched. The number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade, despite their combined wealth having declined just in the last year. “The gap between the rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these,” Behar 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. They are, therefore, trapped at the bottom of the economy,” added Behar. Women do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work. They often have to work reduced hours or drop out of the workforce because of their care workload. Across the globe, 42 per cent of women cannot get jobs because they are responsible for all the caregiving, compared to just six per cent of men. The report stated that India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 74.3 per cent of the total national wealth.
The contrast is even sharper for the top 1 per cent. India’s top 1 per cent of population holds 42.5 per cent of national wealth while the bottom 50 per cent, the majority of the population, owns merely 2.8 per cent of the national wealth.