Skip to main content

India's urban inequality: Top 10% have 50,034 times more wealth than poorest 10%: Report based on NSS data

Inequality in urban India
By Our Representative
Government of India’s National Sample Survey (NSS) figures show that the average value of assets held by urban households falling in the top 10% income category (identified as decile 10) in urban India is Rs 1.5 crore, which is 50,034 times the average value of assets held by an average urban household in the lowest 10% category, or decile 1.
NSS divides household asset holding classes into 10 decile segments for rural and urban India. It means that decile 1 in comprises the poorest 10% of households in terms of their holding of assets, and the decile 10 denotes the richest tenth of households in terms of asset ownership. Almost all physical and financial assets are included.
Analysing latest available NSS urban figures, a recent report adds, those in the 10th decile have “18.7 times the average value of assets held by a household in the 6th decile” and “4.1 times the average value of assets held by a household in the ninth decile.”
“What’s more”, says the analyst, Manas Chakravarty, “these are just the official figures – God only knows how much more skewed these numbers would be if we found some way to include undeclared wealth in the data.”
In rupee terms, says the analyst, the household in the poorest decile – decile 1 – has Rs291 worth of assets, the one in decile 2 has assets worth Rs 9,565, as against the richest household (in the 10th decile), which has assets worth Rs 1.5 crore”
Worse, he adds, if one adds up the total value of assets held by the first nine assets, then, put together, their assets would be worth Rs 82,90,418, which is lower than the richest household’s assets.
Consumption inequality
Coming to the NSS’ consumption data, which show the monthly per capita expenditure of the different classes, from the poorest 5% to the richest 5%, the analyst says, “Differences in consumption are not as skewed as wealth or income, because there’s a limit to what a person can consume in many items.”
Thus, he says, “Monthly per capita expenditure of the richest 5% in urban India is 14.7 times that of the poorest 5%. It is 4.7 times that of the lowest 50-60% bracket, who are India’s actual middle classes.”
Then, says the analyst, the “total medical expenditure per month of a person in the 50-60% group is Rs 119 and “for the top 5%, it’s Rs 658… For those in the 50-60% bracket, spending on education per month is a mere Rs 125. For the richest 5%, it’s Rs 908.”
Pointing out that “it’s not just wealth that’s distributed unequally, so is opportunity”, the analyst says, “Durable goods consumption of the richest 5% is 23 times that of people in the 50-60% group. Spending on personal transport equipment of the richest 5% is 35 times that of the 50-60% group.”
“Given these disparities, even if a disaster were to cut down the consumption of the lower half of the population by a third, it will be a tragedy for the poor, but it will make little difference to the overall spending”, comments the analyst.
He adds, “In short, the poor do not really matter as consumers. They do matter, however, as a reserve army of labour, keeping wages down in the overall economy and boosting profits, which bolsters the incomes of the rich.”

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.