As Indian farmers protest and resist new laws that they claim will threaten their livelihoods, the wealth of the country’s billionaires increased by an estimated 35 per cent during the lockdown, while 84 per cent of households suffered varying degrees of income loss.
The income increases for India’s top 100 billionaires since March 2020, when the lockdown was enforced, was enough to give each of the 138 million poorest people a cheque for 94,045 rupees. If India’s top 11 billionaires were taxed at just one per cent on the increase in wealth during the pandemic it could increase allocation to the Jan Aushadhi scheme – which makes quality medicines available at affordable prices – by 140 times.
It would take an unskilled worker 10,000 years to make what Reliance Industries’ Chairman Mukesh Ambani made in an hour. And three years to make what Ambani made in one second.
Covid protocols like social distancing and washing of hands were a luxury when 32 per cent and 30 per cent of households live in one room and two room houses, respectively, in urban India.