The richest 1% of Indians hold 58% of the country’s total wealth, according to Oxfam India.
The stark inequality in India is worse than the global data put out by the organization, which show that the richest 1% have more than 50% of the total world wealth, Oxfam said.
The anti-poverty advocacy group released a report, “An Economy for the 99%” this week to coincide with the meeting of some of the world’s wealthiest business leaders and most powerful policymakers in Davos, Switzerland.
It said recently improved data on the distribution of wealth, particularly in countries like India and China, indicate that the poorest half of the world has less wealth was previously thought. Oxfam singled out India repeatedly in the report.
It said that companies are increasingly driven to pay higher returns to their shareholders. In India, the amount of profits corporations share with shareholders is as high as 50% and growing rapidly, the report said.
The report said the annual share dividends paid by from Zara’s parent company to Amancio Ortega – the world’s second richest man – are equal to around 800,000 times the annual wage of a worker employed by a garment factory in India.
Oxfam said that the combined wealth of India’s 57 billionaires is equivalent to that of the country’s poorest 70%.
“India is hitting the global headlines for many reasons, but one of them is for being one of the most unequal countries in the world with a very high and sharply rising concentration of income and wealth,” Nisha Agarwal, chief executive of Oxfam said in a statement.
Oxfam said India should introduce an inheritance tax and raise its wealth levies as well as increasing public spending on health and education. It said it should end the era of tax havens and crack down on rich people and corporations avoiding tax.
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