India performs miserably in war on inequality

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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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