Inequality Kills 2022: India Supplement


Published by Oxfam India on January 16, 2022, this is the India supplement of the global Inequality Kills report. This brief has been written by Oxfam India researchers Apoorva Mahendru, Apoorva Sekher, Mayurakshi Dutta, Pravas Ranjan Mishra and Varna Sri Raman.

The brief highlights government policies that favour accumulation of wealth by a select few. It notes the failure of the State in providing adequate social safety nets to the rest of the population, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Privatisation of health and education has progressed while government expenditure in the same areas has proved insufficient, the brief notes. 

The brief advocates for a temporary one per cent surcharge on the richest 10 per cent of the Indian population. This is expected to raise around Rs. 8.7 lakh crores which could fund government spending on education and health.

This 30-page brief contains an executive summary followed by seven sections: Inside India’s inequality crisis: A country of billionaires (section 1); Benefits for billionaires and the tax pandemic for India’s poor (section 2); Deprioritizing social spending (section 3); Privatization of public goods (section 4); Getting an expensive education (section 5); Receiving high cost healthcare (section 6); and Way forward (section 7).


  1. In 2020, the richest 10 per cent people in India owned 45 per cent of the total national wealth. The richest 98 billionaires in the country had around 657 billion US dollars – equal to the combined wealth of 555 million Indians or the poorest 40 per cent.

  2. The brief cites the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2021 report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World to note that over 200 million people in India are undernourished. The country thus accounts for about a quarter of all undernourished people across the world.

  3. The brief states that a mere four per cent wealth tax on 98 of the richest families in the country could fund the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for at least two years. Or, it could finance the mid-day meal scheme for 17 years or the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan for six years.

  4. Similarly, calculations suggest that the Ayushman Bharat scheme could be funded for more than seven years by the revenue generated by a one per cent wealth tax on 98 of the richest Indian families. A similar amount could also provide financing for the Government of India’s Department of School Education and Literacy for one year.

  5. The wage gap between men and women has been widening, the brief states. It cites a 2016 article from the journal Applied Economics to say that differences in the wages of men and women varied widely depending on the type of work. These differences appeared to reinforce social norms around certain professions being suitable for men alone.

  6. According to the Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story, in comparison to upper caste women, the life expectancy of Dalit women is shorter by 15 years. Other sources also suggest that compared to Hindus who belong to dominant castes, the life expectancy of people from Adivasi communities is more than four years lower and that of Muslims is about one year lower.

  7. The brief notes that education at a private school in India costs approximately nine times more than that at a government school.

  8. A 2021 survey-based report by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Boston Consulting Group titled Health Insurance Vision 2025, states that only about 25 per cent of the people eligible for Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana had registered for it. Citing this, the brief further adds that as high as 66 per cent of the respondents belonging to the ‘low income segment’ had not enrolled in the scheme due to a lack of awareness .

  9. According to the India supplement of the 2021 Oxfam publication The Inequality Virus, the cost of treating Covid-19 at a super-specialty private hospital was calculated to be 83 times the monthly income earned by the country’s 13 crore citizens living in extreme poverty.

  10. The brief advocates for a temporary one per cent surcharge on the richest 10 per cent population to raise revenue for the education and health budgets in the country. It also encourages the government to establish social protections for the most vulnerable populations.

    Focus and Factoids by Ananya Dhanuka.


Oxfam India, New Delhi


Oxfam India, New Delhi


16 Jan, 2022