New Delhi [India], January 17 (ANI): During 2021, 40 new Indians became billionaires, taking the total count to 142, while 84 per cent of households in the country suffered a decline in their income in a year marked by tremendous loss of life and livelihoods, according to an Oxfam report released on Monday.
In India, during the pandemic (since March 2020, through to November 30, 2021) the wealth of billionaires increased from Rs 23.14 lakh crore ($313 billion) to Rs 53.16 lakh crore ($719 billion), the report titled 'Inequality Kills' briefing said.
More than 4.6 crore Indians meanwhile are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020. This accounts for nearly half of the global new poor, according to the United Nations. The stark wealth inequality in India is a result of an economic system rigged in favour of the super-rich over the poor and marginalised, the report noted.
The report has been published ahead of the of the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda meeting.
"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 the report.
"India can show the world that democratic systems are capable for wealth redistribution and inclusive growth where no one is left behind. India's fight against inequality and poverty must be supported by the billionaires who made record profits in the country during the pandemic," he added.
Behar noted that Oxfam's global briefing points to the stark reality of inequality contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds. The pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to now 135 years. Women collectively lost Rs 59.11 lakh crore ($800 billion) in earnings in 2020, with 1.3 crore fewer women in work now than in 2019.
"It has never been so important to start righting the wrongs of this obscene inequality by targeting extreme wealth through taxation and getting that money back into the real economy to save lives," he added. (ANI)