Oxfam Report: Ignores Lowering Poverty Percentage, Highlights Unequal India

by January 22, 2019 0 comments

As the richest and most powerful men and women in the world get ready to discuss global issues in Davos, Switzerland, the British charity, Oxfam, has released a report highlighting global wealth inequality. It highlights that the world’s 26 richest people own as much wealth as the world’s 50 per cent of the poorest people and in India, the top nine families control half the country’s wealth. While some of the mathematics and calculations used by the charity have been made to sensationalise the issue, there is little escaping from the fact that we live in a highly iniquitous world. But the question is how can this problem be solved?

Inequality has been a hallmark of human civilisation; utopian societies and ideologies that have advocated equality, at least economic equality, have always failed. A massive programme of wealth distribution is not the solution but a more equitable world will require some amount of wealth redistribution and that should happen through Government taxation. As the charity suggests, a one per cent wealth tax on the richest people in the world can easily fund education, and to a certain degree, even healthcare for the very poor. However, clever tax lawyers and low-tax jurisdictions have often made it very easy for the wealthy, or rather the less morally upright among them, to hide their wealth. This has to change and new banking and taxation regulations are making it tougher for people and corporations to shelter their wealth. However, ironically, anti-tax politicians have, by using nativist arguments, propelled themselves to positions of power in several developed countries.

There is little doubt that countries like China have taken massive strides in lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and indeed in the past two decades so has India — extreme poverty levels have declined. That, however, does not mean that inequality will decline in the long-term. Indeed, in the past, whenever sustained periods of inequality have been around, they usually ended in a bloody revolution, although may be those times are past if Governments across the world can take it upon themselves to solve this problem. This will need a massive transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world, something that China managed thanks to its manufacturing prowess. But India has missed the manufacturing bus and with the nation also going to suffer the fallout of global climate change, things are going to be very difficult for this country whose taxpayers are already frustrated. Higher levels of taxation might lead to a brain and wealth drain that this nation cannot afford, yet something has to be done. That is one of the dilemmas facing whoever takes up the hot seat come May 2019.

Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer

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