63 Indian billionaires worth more than the national budget

63 Indian billionaires worth more than the national budget

India is one of the most unequal countries in the world. It has one of the worst gaps between rich and the poor. The latest Oxfam report has revealed that 63 richest Indian billionaires have more wealth than the total national budget of India. The total national budget was Rs 2,784,200 crores (US$ 391.53 billion) in 2019. 
According to the Oxfam report India's richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country's population-while the total wealth of all Indian billionaires is more than the full-year budget.

The broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist-said the report.

The neoliberal economic model and free market economic policies have helped the rich and billionaires to amass huge piles of wealth. The richest one percent in India now owns more assets and means of productions than ever before.

The market reforms- liberalisation of the economy- privatisation and deregulation started in 1990 in India under the supervision of then finance minister Dr.Manmohan Singh. Dr.Manmohan Singh later served as Prime Minister of India twice from 2004 to 2014. He was the architect of neoliberal economic model in India. Since 1990s- Indian capitalist elite has amassed billions of dollars as the result of increased exploitation of workers and cuts on their incomes.

The state withdraws its role in the redistribution of the wealth in the society. The state was use to impose higher taxes on higher earners. But since 1990s- the governments provided tax breaks to rich and big business and lowered the taxes. The privatisation process also handed over the public sector assets to billionaires.  It concentrated the means of production and wealth in the hands of fewer rich people.

This in return increased the gap between the rich and poor in the society. The governments also reduce the spending on social programs and social security. The wages of workers were squeezed but at the same time the wages for top executives were increased. 

The big share of this wealth amassed by the richest billionaires is the result of unpaid wages of wage labourers. For paying less to wage labourers- the billionaires increased their share in the wealth many times. The governments in last three decades helped these billionaires to super exploit the workers and natural resources to increase their profits to the levels never seen before.  
The wage inequality has also arisen in last three decades.  As per the report, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year. With earnings pegged at Rs 106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what a domestic worker would make in one year.
It further said women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day - a contribution to the Indian economy of at least Rs 19,00,000 (19 lakh crore a year), which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 (Rs 93,000 crore).

Besides, direct public investments in the care economy of 2 per cent of GDP would potentially create 11 million new jobs and make up for the 11 million jobs lost in 2018, the report said. The report said that women and girls are among those who benefit the least from today's economic system.

"They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the 'hidden engine' that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving.
"It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy," report further said.

Oxfam said governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women and tackle poverty and inequality.

Besides, the governments are also underfunding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls' workload, the report said.

                                              Rukhsana Manzoor

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