Rich vs poor gap widening

That the oft-repeated moan, “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,” is not merely an empty slogan or a socialist propaganda, is borne out by some shocking revelations made by a study conducted by Oxfam, an international body, regarding the disparity between the rich and the poor across the world. The figures for 2015 released by it show that just eight individual billionaires have as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population. In India, 58% of the total wealth was in the hands of 1% of the population or 84 billionaires collectively held $248 billion of the total Indian wealth of $3.1 trillion. What was worse, the poorest 10% of the population in India, China and some other Asian countries saw their share of income fall by more than 15%, while the rich made a corresponding gain.

This has been happening for some time, but gained momentum ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the so-called triumph of capitalism. While the world is making rapid strides in the fields of science and technology and many urban pockets are witnessing spectacular growth, the fruits of development are not getting evenly distributed. Many countries have ostensibly turned super rich, but even today, one person in three in the world lives in poverty and almost a billion people go to bed hungry every night. Most governments across the world, including the democratic ones, have shed their natural and moral responsibility towards a majority of people who elect them or look up to them for welfare and begun to serve corporate vested interests, where huge financial kickbacks are involved. How else would one explain the exponential growth of some multinational companies? The Oxfam figures for 2015 show that 10 trans-nationals including Walmart, Shell and Apple earned more than what 180 poor and developing countries did and their profits
were in the range of $154 billion.

The rising income inequality hurts the women and girls even more as the age-old gender biases continue to operate. The study said, due to a combination of discrimination and working in low-pay sectors, women’s wages across Asia are between 70%-90% of the men’s. In India, women form 60% of the lowest paid labour, and the gender wage disparity for men and women in similar jobs is over 30%. The situation is not much different in the rest of the world. “We are the 99%” agitation which surfaced in the US some years ago as a mark of strong public resentment against the gobbling of wealth by the rich, may surface all over again if the governments do not quickly initiate remedial action to move towards a just and humane society.

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