A new report by top UK-based multinational NGO Oxfam on dangers of global inequality has estimated that over the next 20 years, 500 people world over will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.
Claiming that this calculation is based on new “new and better data on the distribution of global wealth, particularly in India and China”, Oxfam says, they indicate that “the poorest half of the world has less wealth than had been previously thought.”
“Had this new data been available last year, it would have shown that nine billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet, and not 62, as Oxfam calculated at the time”, the international NGO regrets in its report.
Titled “An Economy for the 99%”, the report doesn’t just point towards international inequality. Within India, according to Oxfam, which operates in India as a major source of foreign funds to the country’s NGOs, “While many chief executives, who are often paid in shares, have seen their incomes skyrocket, wages for ordinary workers and producers have barely increased, and in some cases have got worse.”
It says, “The CEO of India’s top information firm earns 416 times the salary of a typical employee in his company”, adding, if the world over, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) 21 million people are “forced labourers, generating an estimated $150bn in profits each year”, India has its own share.
Thus, Oxfam states, “The world’s largest garment companies have all been linked to cotton-spinning mills in India, which routinely use the forced labour of girls.”
Pointing out that “across the world, corporations are relentlessly squeezing down the costs of labour – and ensuring that workers and producers in their supply chains get less and less of the economic pie”, Oxfam says, “This increases inequality and suppresses demand. In many parts of the world, corporations are increasingly driven by a single goal: to maximize returns to their shareholders.”
“In India”, says Oxfam, “As profits have been rising for the 100 largest listed corporations, the share of net profits going to dividends has also increased steadily over the last decade, reaching 34% in 2014/15, with around 12 private corporations paying more than 50% of their profits as dividends.”
Oxfam says, “Over the last two decades the richest 10% of the population in China, Indonesia, Laos, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have seen their share of income increase by more than 15%, while the poorest 10% have seen their share of income fall by more than 15%.”
It adds, “Due to a combination of discrimination and working in low-pay sectors, women’s wages across Asia are between 70% and 90% of men’s. Many women struggle to survive as the national minimum wage in many Asian countries – where it is paid – is on average a quarter of the amount required for a decent standard of living.”
Oxfam notes, “More than 40% of the 400 million women who live in rural India are involved in agriculture and related activities. However, as women are not recognized as farmers and do not own land, they have limited access to government schemes and credit, restricting their agricultural productivity.”