News Excerpt
The world’ s richest 1 per cent have more than twice the wealth of the rest of humanity combined, according to Oxfam in its report ‘Time to Care”, which called on governments to adopt inequality-busting policies.

Pre-Connect
•    Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 NGOs working with partners in over 90 countries to end the injustices that cause poverty.
•    Time to Care report by Oxfam outlines how global inequality is shockingly entrenched and vast, with the number of billionaires having doubled in the last decade.
•    The report also shows how our economies are fueling the inequality crisis and enabling a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.

Highlights of the Report
    Governments are massively under-taxing rich individuals and corporations, and under-funding public services.
    Women and girls were burdened with disproportionate responsibility for care work and fewer economic opportunities.
    Economic inequality is out of control, with 2,153 billionaires having more wealth than 4.6 billion people in 2019.
    The world’s three richest people amassed a total of $231 billion over the past decade.
    The total wealth of the top 20 billionaires has doubled from $672 billion to $1,397 billion since 2012.
    India’s richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country’s population, while the total wealth of all Indian billionaires is more than the full-year budget.

Factors responsible for economic inequality in India
    Unemployment: The main reason for low level of income of the majority of Indian people is unemployment and underemployment and the consequent low productivity of labour.
    Inflation: Another cause of inequality is inflation. During inflation, few profit earners gain and most wage earners lose.
    Tax Evasion: In India, the personal income tax rates are very high. High tax rates encourage evasion and avoidance and give birth to a parallel economy.High tax rates are responsible for inequality in the distribution of income and wealth. This is due to undue concentration of incomes in a few hands caused by large- scale tax evasion.
    New Agricultural Strategy: India’s new agricultural strategy led to the Green Revolution and raised agricultural productivity. But the benefits of higher productivity were enjoyed mainly by the rich farmers and landowners.

Way forward: Reducing Economic Inequality
    Investing in women: Women contribute only 17 per cent of India’s GDP. As IMF Chief Christine Lagarde recently said, if women’s participation in the workforce matched men’s, India could grow at 27 per cent.  More family-friendly work policies are required for this.
    Investing in agriculture:  As per the World Bank, agriculture can help reduce poverty for 80 per cent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming.
    Reforming workplace laws: Reforms in workers’ laws can reduce inequalities. Minimum wages and universal basic income (UBI) are two of the popular ways to reform workplace laws. They both have the same aim — raising incomes of the least fortunate to reduce the income gap.
    Distinguishing poor from non-poor: In developing countries such as India, despite having hundreds of pro-poor schemes, the biggest question is whether such benefit is reaching the poor. Therefore, distinguishing the poor from non-poor properly is required.

Key Recommendations
Oxfam is proposing the following six actions to help realize the rights of careers and to start closing the gap between unpaid and underpaid care workers and the wealthy elite, who have profited most from their labour:
    Invest in national care systems to address the disproportionate responsibility for care work done by women and girls.
    End extreme wealth to end extreme poverty.
    Legislate to protect the rights of all carers and secure living wages for paid care workers.
    Ensure that carers have influence on decision-making processes
    Challenge harmful norms.
    Value care work in business policies andpractices.

Let us not forget history. The Roman Empire was one of the richest on the planet, with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few elite and the rest were utterly poor. Warning signs of inequality were ignored and it resulted in civil war and the entire empire collapsed. Do we want that again? Let us collectively work towards making an equitable world.

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