Does anybody care? India's rich-poor divide is obnoxious, says study

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Davos, Jan 16: In signs of rising income inequality, India's richest 1 per cent now hold a huge 58 per cent of the country's total wealth -- higher than the global figure of about 50 per cent, a new study showed on Monday.

The study, released by rights group Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting here attended by rich and powerful from across the world, showed that just 57 billionaires in India now have same wealth ($ 216 billion) as that of the bottom 70 per cent population of the country.

Mukesh Ambani

Globally, just 8 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the world population.

The study said there are 84 billionaires in India, with a collective wealth of $ 248 billion, led by Mukesh Ambani ($ 19.3 billion), Dilip Shanghvi ($ 16.7 billion) and Azim Premji ($ 15 billion). The total Indian wealth in the country stood at $ 3.1 trillion.

The total global wealth in the year was $ 255.7 trillion, of which about $ 6.5 trillion was held by billionaires, led by Bill Gates ($ 75 billion), Amancio Ortega ($ 67 billion) and Warren Buffett ($ 60.8 billion).

In the report titled 'An economy for the 99 per cent', Oxfam said it is time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few.

It said that since 2015, the richest 1 per cent has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.

"Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $ 2.1 trillion to their heirs -- a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people," Oxfam said.

The study findings showed that the poorest half of the world has less wealth than had been previously thought while over the last two decades, the richest 10 per cent of the population in China, Indonesia, Laos, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have seen their share of income increase by more than 15 per cent.

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