The world's 26 richest people now own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world comprising 3.8 billion people, according to the latest survey by Oxfam. The international rights group's annual study, 'Public Good or Private Wealth', also found that getting the world's richest 1% to pay a mere 0.5% extra tax on their wealth could raise more money than it would cost to educate all 262 million children that are out of school and provide life-saving healthcare to 3.3 million people.
The report, released today, ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting at Davos, Switzerland, also contained some damning facts specific to India. For instance, 13.6 crore Indians, who make up the poorest 10% of the country, have continued to remain in debt for the past 15 years. Meanwhile, in 2018 alone, India's 119 billionaires saw their wealth mushrooming by Rs 2,200 crore a day on average.
According to Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, one of the key participants at the WEF summit, it is "morally outrageous" that a few wealthy individuals are amassing a growing share of India's wealth, while the poor are struggling to eat their next meal or pay for their child's medicines. "If this obscene inequality between the top 1 percent and the rest of India continues then it will lead to a complete collapse of the social and democratic structure of this country," she added.
Here are some more takeaways from the Oxfam report, which is based on the latest comprehensive data sources available publicly, including from the Credit Suisse Wealth Databook and the annual Forbes Billionaires List:
India added 18 new billionaires last year, taking the total number of billionaires to 119, and their collective wealth rose to $440.1 billion, up from $325.5 billion in 2017. This is the single largest annual increase since the 2008 global financial crisis. Between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce 70 new dollar millionaires every day, Oxfam said.
Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal with PTI inputs