In India, around 90% of billionaire wealth is owned by upper castes.

Key Findings:

  • A recent report by the World Inequality Lab, titled “Towards Tax Justice and Wealth Redistribution in India,” highlights severe economic disparities in the country.
    The findings reveal that nearly 90% of India’s billionaire wealth is concentrated among the upper castes, underscoring a significant socio-economic divide.

Rising Inequality 

  • India has experienced increasing income and wealth inequality since the 1980s, notably accelerating from the 2000s and peaking between 2014-15 and 2022-23.
  • Currently, the top 1% holds more than 40% of the nation’s total wealth, a substantial increase from 12.5% in 1980. 
  • Additionally, their share of the total pre-tax income has risen to 22.6%, up from 7.3% in 1980. 

Caste and Economic Mobility: The report shows that 88.4% of India’s billionaire wealth is controlled by upper castes.

  • In contrast, despite Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) forming a substantial part of India’s workforce, their representation among enterprise owners remains disproportionately low.

Disparities in Enterprise Ownership: The “State of Working India, 2023” report from Azim Premji University shows SCs and STs are underrepresented among enterprise owners relative to their workforce participation. 

  • SCs, who make up 19.3% of the workforce, account for only 11.4% of enterprise owners. Similarly, STs, constituting 10.1% of the workforce, represent just 5.4% of enterprise owners.

Wealth Disparity Across Groups: According to the All-India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) for 2018-19, upper castes hold nearly 55% of the national wealth, reflecting enduring economic inequalities rooted in India’s caste system.

  • The National Family Health Survey indicates that only 12.3% of SCs and 5.4% of STs belong to the highest wealth quintile, whereas over 25% of SCs and 46.3% of STs are in the lowest wealth category. 
  • The Other Backward Classes (OBC) community shows a similar trend, with 16.3% in the lowest wealth category and 19.2% in the highest.

What is inequality?

  • As per International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inequality can be viewed from different perspectives, all of which are related. 
  • Most common metric is Income Inequality, which refers to the extent to which income is evenly distributed within a population. 

How is Income Inequality measured?

  • Gini coefficient is a typical measure of income inequality.
  • The coefficient varies between 0 and 1, with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 perfect inequality. 

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