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Inequality index: India ranks 132nd among 152 countries because of "woefully low" health, education spending

By Rajiv Shah
A top international report has said that India fares “very badly, ranking 132 out of 152 countries in its commitment to reducing inequality – a very worrying situation given that the country is home to 1.2 billion people, many of whom live in extreme poverty.”
Compared to India, among the neighbours, Nepal ranks 81, Sri Lanka 138, Pakistan 139, and Bangladesh 141. Sweden ranks No 1, followed by Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Finland, Austria and France. United Kingdom ranks 17, South Africa 21, United States 23, Russia 85, and China 87.
Insisting that “unless they take concerted action now”, India and other countries ranking equally badly “will fail to end poverty and fail to make sustainable economic progress that benefits everyone in society”, the report, prepared by well-known UK-based NGO Oxfam in collaboration with the US-based Development Finance International, says that if India were to reduce inequality by a third, more than 170 million people would no longer be poor.
Called Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) report, it says, the Government of India spending on “health, education and social protection is woefully low”, adding, “The tax structure looks reasonably progressive on paper, but in practice much of the progressive tax is not collected.”
It further says, “On labour rights and respect for women in the workplace, India also fares poorly, reflecting that the majority of the labour force is employed in the agricultural and informal sectors, which lack union organization.”
Thus, among 152 countries, India ranks 149 in spending on health, education and social protection; 91 in progressive structure and incidence of tax; and 86 in labour market policies to address inequality 86, with the overall CRI ranking averaging at 132.
Pointing out that India is one of the countries whose actual ‘incidence’ of tax – who actually pays tax – is very different from what it appears on paper, the report says, “India collects just 16.7% of GDP, Indonesia collects 11.9%, whereas South Africa manages to collect over 27%.”
Pointing towards the type of inequalities that exist in India, where it has been compulsory since 2013 for firms to publish their the chief executive officers (CEOs) pay ratios, the report says, the country’s “CEO of the top IT firm brings in 416 times the salary of his company’s typical employee.”
Coming to the gender gap, the report says, “Women make up the majority of the world’s low-paid workers and are disproportionately concentrated in the most insecure roles in the informal sector”, the situation extremely bad in Asia.
“In Asia 75% of working women are working informally, lacking access to basic benefits such as sick pay, maternity leave or pensions”, the report says, adding, “Women are often paid less than men for doing the same job, despite working longer hours; for instance, in India, the wage gap is 32.6%.”
The report comments, “The inequality crisis is not inevitable and that governments are not powerless in the face of it. A number of governments, in recent as well as more distant history, including Sweden, Chile, Uruguay and Namibia, have shown they can buck the trend of growing inequality by taking clear steps to reduce it.”
It adds, “Unfortunately, many other governments, including Nigeria and India, are failing to make use of the tools available to them to tackle this global scourge. Unless they take concerted action now, they will fail to end poverty and fail to make sustainable economic progress that benefits everyone in society.”

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
In the latest article, Inequality index: India ranks 132nd among 152 countries because of "woefully low" health, education spending, the figure for Sri Lanka seems wrong. I have visited that country twice (and hope to go there a third time some day) and I have found the literacy levels are 100%, awareness of health and hygiene is high, there are no beggars, and all in all, they are a friendly, honest, and cheerful people.
I must confess that I haven’t seen the whole country as my visits have been only to the west coast but this is where the majority of the population lives. The Tamil-dominated area might be poor in some respects and this may bring down the levels of the whole country but I don’t think it can be worse than India.

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