Indian billionaires should take a cue from their global counterparts and donate more cash for India’s poor, a top market analyst has said.
New Delhi, [India] : Seasoned market analyst Deepak Talwar, quoting an Oxfam report, said India’s top 10 percent population, which holds 74.3 percent of the total national wealth, must open their purses as it happened abroad during the pandemic.
Talwar said that as many as nine Indian billionaires donated $541 million for Covid-19-related causes in financial donations, manufactured goods, equipment, or other commitments. “This is the most in the world after the US and China but more needs to be done because India is a billion-plus nation.”
He said that more donations must come in because even if an individual doubles the amount of donations made by the country’s top billionaires, it would be close to $1 billion. “India’s top 11 billionaires gained close to $98 billion last year. So the donation of these nine billionaires adds around one percent of the gain in wealth made by the top 11 billionaires during the pandemic period. The bottom of 90 percent owns 25.7 percent of national wealth. There is a serious inequality problem,” said Deepak Talwar.
Reports appearing in the Indian media said the total amount of wealth garnered by Indian billionaires during the pandemic could sustain the NREGS scheme or the health ministry for almost a decade. The increase in the wealth of the top 11 billionaires totals Rs 7,20,989 crore. In India, the government’s health budget stands at Rs 67,112 crore and the NREGS budget stands at Rs 63,000 crore.
“The government needs Rs 60,000 crore to provide a cash dole to India’s workers in the informal sector rendered jobless by the lockdown,” said Talwar, adding the pandemic may double the poverty in India. “Even a 25 percent fall in their incomes due to the pandemic will make 354 million more Indians poor.”
Many have advocated a levy of a progressive tax on the accumulated wealth by this super-rich during the pandemic period.
“We are going to tax Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the other billionaires’ outrageous pandemic wealth accumulation so we can provide healthcare to all our people,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders in a tweet on August 8.
“In India, the issue of income inequality has been ignored for far too long by policymakers. Now, this inequality has come to haunt us very badly, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Inequality in access to health, education, and nutrition has been exposed during the last 10 months.”
He said that the Indian government can easily work out a plan where these billionaires can play a more constructive and participatory role in the act of nation-building. “The government can design a policy framework where this lot of top 100 billionaires can play a crucial role in helping the government reduce the existing income inequality,” added Deepak Talwar.