Saturday, July 04, 2015

India and Inequality

The report of the Global Wealth Databook 2014 from Credit Suisse reveals some startling facts. The richest 1 per cent of Indians today own nearly half (49 per cent) of India’s personal wealth up from 37% in 2000. The rest of us 99 per cent are left to share the remainder. And that too is very unequally shared. The top 10 per cent Indians own nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of the country’s personal wealth. The remaining 90 per cent share a meagre quarter.

The share of India’s richest 10 per cent families has grown from 66 per cent in the year 2000 to 74 per cent today.

Of the world’s poorest 20 per cent people, nearly one in four are Indians.

Official data on all indicators of development reveal that India’s tribal people are the worst off in terms of income, health, education, nutrition, infrastructure and governance. They have also been unfortunately at the receiving end of the injustices of the development process itself.

Around 40 per cent of the 60 million people displaced following development projects in India are tribals, which is not a surprise given that 90 per cent of our coal and more than 50 per cent of most minerals and dam sites are mainly in tribal regions.

Globally, India spends among the lowest share of its national income on public provision of health and education.

At all levels, a household’s expenditure on education has doubled since 2007-08.

Hospitalisation proves well beyond the means of most; it can cost a person in the poorest 20 per cent of the country over 15 times their usual monthly expenditure. Even among the richest 20 per cent, hospitalisation tends to cost over five times the person’s monthly expenditure. Yet 85 per cent of the people have no health expenditure support, either from a government scheme or through an employer or private insurance. As a result, over two of three households dip into their savings to pay for hospitalisation, and another 20 per cent have to borrow money.

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