The gap between the rich and the poor continues to rise, with the rich experiencing unparalleled growth in their wealth, despite the pandemic. As per Oxfam India’s Global Inequality Report Supplement of 2020, India’s top 10 percent of the population holds 74.3 percent of the total national wealth. The contrast is even sharper for the top one percent. India’s top one percent of population holds 42.5 percent of national wealth while the bottom 50 percent, the majority of the population, owns a mere 2.8 percent of the national wealth.
The CRII 2020 ranks India at 129 out of 158 countries on government policies and actions in areas of public services (education, health, social protection), taxation and workers’ rights. However, the saving grace for India has been the taxation pillar where it ranks 19, while the other two pillars reflect the troublesome conditions of public services (ranked 141) and labour rights (ranked 151). India’s spending on education, health and social protection is 9.05, 3.98 and 11.23 percent, respectively, while these go as high as 24 percent for education and health and 47 percent for social protection for other countries.
There are also large gaps in access due to inequality with one in 10 of the poorest young people completing secondary school, compared to nearly 80 percent of the richest. Additionally, only 55 percent of the population has universal health coverage. Even poverty rates are quite worrisome. At the $1.90 threshold, four percent of India’s population, or 50 million people, are living in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock, not to mention the 400 million informal workers that are at risk of being pushed into poverty due to the pandemic, according to ILO. The gender wage gap, in particular, remains considerable at 34% in 2011-12 even though that is a decline from 48% estimated in 1993-94.