India performs miserably in war on inequality

India has been ranked 132 out of 152 countries in an index that rates countries by their commitment to reducing inequality.

About the index:

  • The index and the inequality report were put together by the international NGO Oxfam and Development Finance International.

  • The index measures the efforts of governments that had pledged to reduce inequality as part of the sustainable development goals.

  • The index mainly focused on redistributive actions governments can take, rather than those that would prevent rising inequality in the first place.

Highlights of the index:

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries headed by Sweden ranked the highest while Nigeria was at the bottom.

  • The US had the highest level of inequality among developed countries, though it is the wealthiest country in history.

  • Ironically, Bhutan, known for coining the term ‘Gross National Happiness’, is ranked even lower than India at 143.

  • Nepal (81) and China (87) ranked between 138 and 150. This region is home to the largest chunk of poor people in the world.

Note on India:

  • The report noted that government spending on health, education and social protection was woefully low in India.

  • The tax structure looks reasonably progressive on paper, but in practice much of the progressive tax is not collected.

  • India fared poorly on labour rights as well as respect for women in the work place.

  • If India were to reduce its inequality by a third, 170 million people could be raised out of poverty. In contrast, it noted how Namibia had halved the poverty rate from 53% to 23% with very high spending on health and education.

Source:Economic Times

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