New Delhi: The Covid pandemic has led to a rise in inequality, and it would take an unskilled worker 10,000 years to make what Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic and three years to make what Mukesh Ambani made in a second.
As per the Oxfam Inequality Report called this year as “The Inequality Virus Report” because of the pandemic said the pandemic has also widened the existing social, economic and gender-based inequalities.
“The rich have been able to escape the pandemic’s worst impact, and white-collar workers have easily isolated themselves and have been working from home. However, most of India has faced loss of livelihoods,” it said.
During pandemic, on the day when Indian billionaire, Mukesh Ambani, rose to become the fourth richest man in the world, a farmer, Rajesh Rajak, and his three daughters died by suicide as a result of his job loss.
The rising inequality in the country is poignant: It would take an unskilled worker 10,000 years to make what Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic and 3 years to make what Ambani made in a second. The pandemic has also widened the existing social, economic and gender-based inequalities, Oxfam said.
The wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown and by 90 per cent since 2009 to $422.9 billion ranking India, sixth in the world after US, China, Germany, Russia and France.
This is despite the fact that most of India has faced a loss of livelihoods and its economy has dipped into recession for the first time after a quarter of a century.
The increase in wealth of the top 11 billionaires during the pandemic can easily sustain the MGNREGS scheme or the health ministry of India for the coming 10 years, Oxfam said.
Mukesh Ambani, emerged as the fourth richest man in the world and the richest in India and Asia with his wealth rising to Rs 5,837 billion — a rise of 72 per cent in his wealth. He was making Rs 90 crore per hour during the pandemic at a time when around 24 per cent of the people in the country have been earning under Rs 3,000 per month during the lockdown, the report said.
India’s wealthiest people escaped the worst impact of the pandemic while the majority of India suffered. This gross asymmetry of power and resources is not just amoral argument, but a practical question, it said.
As per International Labour Organization (ILO), with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 40 crore workers in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis. The increase in the wealth of the richest person in India during pandemic could keep 40 crore informal workers out of poverty for at least 5 months.
A survey done by Credit Vidya reported that the loss of income among those earning more than Rs 60,000 a month was 10 per cent compared to their pre-pandemic income whereas the income of those earning less than Rs 20,000 a month reduced to 37 per cent of their pre pandemic income.
Eighty-four per cent of the households suffered a loss in income in April 2020. While 1,70,000 people lost their jobs every hour in the month of April 2020. Approximately 167 people killed themselves due to starvation and financial distress from job loss and reduction in income between March to July 2020, Oxfam said.