Worldwide, top-10 richest get richer . . .
A recent Oxfam report highlights widening economic, gender, and racial inequalities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, the world’s 10 richest individuals doubled their wealth, while the incomes of 99 per cent of people globally worsened. Nearly 160 million people are estimated to have been pushed into poverty, and the poor are nearly four times more likely to die from COVID-19. Vaccine inequity is another factor contributing to COVID-19 deaths among low-income groups and poorer nations. The report also warns of the adverse impact of inequality on gender parity and women’s rights efforts. And it recommends a one per cent tax on the COVID-19 wealth gained by the richest to pay for vaccines worldwide and investments in climate measures, health and social protections, and gender-based violence prevention efforts.
India in the spotlight . . .
The Oxfam report highlights issues in India, including its rising income inequality as a result of its pro-rich economic and fiscal policies and its failure to provide safety nets for the rest of the population. During the pandemic, the country’s billionaires increased from 102 in 2020 to 142 in 2021, and their combined wealth increased from C$393 billion to C$903 billion. At the same time, more than 46 million Indians were pushed into extreme poverty. This stark inequality is attributed to tax policies, decreasing social security spending, and increasing privatization of public goods like health care and education. The report suggests that a one-per-cent wealth tax on India’s billionaires could fund the country’s entire vaccine program.
India in a time of COVID . . .
While Indian billionaires get richer, the working class is struggling to adapt to working remotely and freelance and gig jobs. The pandemic’s shift to digital ways of working may ultimately support salaried working class and informal workers in the gig economy, but the same cannot be said of the poorest and casual labourers who depend on daily wage jobs. They often belong to castes that are subject to discrimination or religious minorities, and are more likely to be women.
- Oxfam India: Inequality kills: India supplement 2022
- Oxfam International: Inequality kills
- South China Morning Post: Workers on life in India’s post-Covid, post-Great Resignation, gig economy: ‘Like I’m working all the time’