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Inequality Kills: Oxfam Report 2022

The Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills’’ was released in January 2022. The report highlighted a stark income divide worsened by the Covid pandemic, globally and in India. The report was released ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda and stated that the income of 84 percent of households in the country declined in 2021.

In this article, we shall discuss at length the Inequality Kills Report’s summary and the observations made. It is also an important topic from the IAS Exam perspective and aspirants must carefully analyse the information in the article, as questions based on the same may be asked in the final UPSC civil services examination.

Aspirants can also update themselves with the List of Reports Published by International Organisations and prepare for the upcoming competitive exams.

 Inequality Kills: 2022 Report [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Inequality Kills Report 2022: Highlights

The key finding of the report are given below for the convenience of the aspirants. Go through the points for a better understanding of the report.

  • Economic Violence: When structural policy decisions are made in favour of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals, economic violence of a certain kind is committed. The most impacted groups include the poorest individuals, women, girls, and racialized groups.
    • Gender-Based Violence: Economic sexism and patriarchy are the core causes of gender-based violence. Sex-selective abortions are examples of gender based violence.
    • Hunger Caused By Poverty: Poverty in its extreme forms results in hunger, killing many people as a result, and it is faced by billions of ordinary people all over the world each day.
    • Healthcare Access Disparities: Access to high-quality healthcare is a human right, yet it is far too frequently viewed as a privilege for the wealthy.
    • Inequality of Climate Change Crisis: The climate catastrophe is being fueled by the carbon emissions of the wealthiest individuals, whose average carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to be 8,000 times greater than those of the world’s poorest 1 billion.
  • Magnitude of Growing Inequities
    • Our world is being torn apart by growing racial, gender and economic inequality as well as international inequality.
    • At least one person dies as a result of inequality every four seconds.
    • Covid-19 has reduced the incomes of 99% of the world’s population.
    • Since the pandemic started, the wealth of the top 10 wealthiest people in the world has doubled.
  • Vaccine Discrimination: Although wealthy nations may support the vaccine monopoly and stockpile vaccines to protect their populations, by doing so they expose their own citizens to the risk of the mutations that vaccine apartheid is causing. The idea of “vaccine apartheid” emphasises how historically oppressed peoples are impacted by inequitable vaccination programmes.

Aspirants of the civil services must also check out the following links for relevant information-

Daily News

Oxfam Report On Indian Situation

  • Growing Inequalities
    • The report claims that although 84% of households in the nation saw their incomes decrease in 2021, the number of billionaires in India increased from 102 to 142.
    • In India, there are 39% more billionaires in 2021 than there were in 2020, with more billionaires than France, Sweden and Switzerland combined.
    • Just after China and the US, India has the third-highest number of billionaires in the world.
    • The wealth of Indian billionaires surged from Rs 23.14 lakh crore to Rs 53.16 lakh crore during the pandemic.
  • Reduced Social Security Spending:
    • The budgetary allocation for social security schemes declined from 1.5% of the total Union budget to 0.6%.
    • Even after raising funding during the early stages of the pandemic, budgets for 2021–22 were significantly lowered.
    • According to a percentage calculated from the 2011 Census, the priority list of households under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) has been frozen in terms of absolute numbers.
    • Population growth totaling around 10 crore eligible beneficiaries has been excluded during the past 11 years.
    • As a result, only about 12% of those who are legally eligible, including children from “priority households” that already exist, can receive subsidies on food.
  • Increase In Number Of Poor:
    • It is predicted that by 2020, more than 4.6 crore Indians will live in abject poverty. 
    • The United Nations estimates that this represents over half of the world’s new poor.
    • Furthermore, only 6% of the national wealth in the same year belonged to the bottom 50% of the population.
    • Also, India now has more unemployed people than before.
  • Unequal Federalism: Despite the federal organisation of the nation, the Center continued to hold a disproportionate amount of financial resources. Despite not being equipped to handle the crisis with its insufficient human and financial resources, the management of the pandemic was left to the states.
  • Rising Fiscal Deficit: Lowering corporate taxes from 30% to 22% in order to attract investment last year (2020) resulted in a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh crore, which contributed to raising India’s fiscal deficit.
  • Gender Inequality: 
    • With 1.3 crores fewer women working than in 2019, women collectively lost Rs 59.11 lakh crore in earnings in 2020.
    • The pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to now 135 years.
  • Inequality in Salaries and Allowances
    • For nearly 15 years, the monthly amount of social security pensions for the aged, the disabled, and widows has been locked at Rs 200 to 300.
    • The incomes and pensions of the decision-makers, on the other hand, have increased.
    • The cost to the exchequer of the increase for one crore central government employees and pensioners is greater than the total budget for 3.3 crore beneficiaries’ social security pensions.
  • Healthcare:
    • As the Covid pandemic ravaged India, the nation’s healthcare budget fell 10% from RE (Revised Estimates) of 2020-21.
    • India has an average Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) of 62.67%, compared to a global average of 18.12%.
    • Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) in private hospitals is over six times greater than in public hospitals for inpatient care and two to three times higher for outpatient care, according to data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) (2017-18).
  • Unequal Access to Education
    • The pandemic has also resulted in the emergence of a generation of kids who have forgotten what formal schooling is. 
    • Many youngsters from low-income families have already entered the workforce.
    • The budget for education has been reduced by 6% over this time. 
    • Spending less money and relying more on online education is equivalent to institutionalising widespread, multifaceted poverty.

You may also read about Social Empowerment on the page linked here.

Way Forward As Per the Report

  • Change the rules and the balance of power in society and the economy: This involves repealing sexist regulations, such as those that forbid over 3 billion women from having access to the same range of employment opportunities as males.
  • Universal, high-quality healthcare that is publicly funded and delivered must be the pandemic’s lasting legacy.
  • To combat inequality, bring extreme wealth back into the real economy: The profits obtained by the super-rich during this pandemic time should be immediately taxed by all countries. 
    • E.g. The Covid-19 wealth gains of the top 10 men richest would yield $812 billion in revenue if a 99% one-time windfall tax were applied.
  • Redirecting taxed money from the rich, on future investments and lifesaving initiatives: In order to save lives and invest in our future, all governments must make investments in powerful, evidence-based policies. 
    • E.g. These funds may be used to produce enough vaccinations to protect everyone on the planet, cover funding shortages in climate change initiatives, provide universal health and social protection, and combat gender-based violence in over 80 nations.
  • Change the rules and the balance of power in society and the economy.

 Inequality Kills: 2022 Report [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Given below are links to a few important reports published by various Organisations for UPSC preparation:

UPSC 2023

Global Inequality Crisis Report: 2020

The Global Inequality Crisis Report was released on January 20, 2020, and was titled Time to Care: Unpaid and Underpaid Care Work and the Global Inequality Crisis. The report was released ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF)

As per the report released by Oxfam International, the economic inequality in the world is out of control. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are deteriorating more in terms of their economic condition.

Global Inequality Crisis Report [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Global Inequality Crisis Report – Key Points

Given below are a few key observations that were made by Oxfam International based on facts and data which are provided in the report. Discussed below are the same:

  • In 2019, the total wealth of the 2,153 world’s billionaires was found to be more than the wealth of 4.6 billion people. Another astonishing fact stated in the report is that the richest 22 men in the world own more than the entire women population in Africa
  • The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people
  • The monetary value of women’s unpaid care work globally for women aged 15 and over is at least $10.8 trillion annually – three times the size of the world’s tech industry
  • Taxing an additional 0.5% of the wealth of the richest 1% over the next 10 years is equal to investments needed to create 117 million jobs in education, health and elderly care and other sectors, and to close care deficits
  • Men across the world own 50% more wealth than wealth of women. Apart from the economy, politically as well men are more in power than women. Just 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians globally are women, and they occupy an estimated 34% of managerial positions in the countries where data is available 
  • Between 2011 and 2017 average wages in G7 countries increased by 3%, while dividends to wealthy shareholders grew by 31% 
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that there will be an extra 100 million older people and an additional 100 million children aged 6 to 14 years needing care by 2030
  • Based on the data available, the report also estimates that globally, 3.4 million domestic workers in forced labour are being robbed of $8bn every year, equating to 60% of their due wages
  • As per the latest information released by the World Bank, nearly half the world is trying to survive on $5.50 a day or less 

To read in detail about Income Inequality in India, visit the linked article. 

Online Quiz 2023

Economic Inequality based on Gender

Economic inequality is also built on gender inequality and the majority of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid is women. 

The report also brings forward the data which shows unequal economic growth between men and women. Given below are the key points which show gender-based inequality:

  • Women and girls living in poverty and from marginalised groups are putting in 12.5 billion hours every day of care work for free, and countless more for poverty wages
  • Oxfam has calculated that women’s unpaid care work alone is adding value to the economy to the tune of at least $10.8 trillion a year, which is three times larger than the tech industry
  • Women undertake more than three-quarters of unpaid care and makeup two-thirds of the paid care workforce
  • Extreme poverty rates are 4% higher for women globally than men. This gender gap rises to 22% during women’s peak productive and reproductive ages; that is, 122 women aged 25–34 for every 100 men of the same age group live in extremely poor households, largely due to childcare responsibilities
  • Globally, 42% of women of working age, compared with 6% of men, are outside the paid labour force because of unpaid care responsibilities.

Based on Oxfam’s research, women in low-income communities in Uganda, Zimbabwe, India, the Philippines and Kenya largely fall prey to the economic disparity. 

Also, read Gender Inequality in India

Principles to Overcome the Global Inequality Crisis

The focus must be on building a human economy that benefits the 99% and not just the 1% which is already rich. Both the dramatic level of economic inequality and the looming care crisis can be tackled, but it will require concerted efforts and bold policy decisions to mend the damage was done and to build economic systems that care for all citizens.

Given below is the transformative 4R’s principle framework which can help maintain a balanced and fairer human economy:

  1. Recognise unpaid and poorly paid care work, which is done primarily by women and girls, as a type of work or production that has real value
  2. Reduce the total number of hours spent on unpaid care tasks through better access to affordable and quality time-saving devices and care-supporting infrastructure
  3. Redistribute unpaid care work more fairly within the household and simultaneously shift the responsibility of unpaid care work to the state and the private sector
  4. Represent the most marginalized caregivers and ensure that they have a voice in the design and delivery of policies, services and systems that affect their lives

Global Inequality Crisis Report – The Way Forward

Given below are a few recommendations which can be considered moving forward in terms of reducing the global inequality crisis, as mentioned in the report by Oxfam International:

  • Investments must be made in the national care system, which should include access to quality healthcare, education, sanitation and domestic energy systems. Also, the focus must be placed on the disproportionate responsibility for care work by women and girls
  • One of the major causes of the failing economy is extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Government must take radical measures to reduce the economic gap and focus on sustainable growth and development
  • Legal, economic and labour market policies must be revised ensuring that the rights and wages of the care workers are properly implemented
  • Advertisement, public communication and legislation must be strengthened to spread awareness against the harmful norms and sexist beliefs against women care workers
  • Value care must be provided to the care workers, and the Government must take initiatives in favour of the same

About Oxfam International

Oxfam is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. Their work is mainly driven on the grounds of commitment to the universality of human rights, fighting poverty and injustice, and guiding through the feminist approach. 

The organisation is working across regions in over 70 countries and fights for the rights and protection of lives and livelihood. It was formed in 1995 by a group of non-governmental organisations to share knowledge and resources and combine their efforts in the fight against poverty, injustice and inequality. 

Global Inequality Crisis Report [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

FAQ about Inequality Report Oxfam International

1. What is the meaning of global inequality?

It means that inequality in access to the same rights, opportunities, or quality of life of people across the world.

2. What are the effects of global inequality?

low levels of income and wealth also often imply insufficient access to healthcare, many people may suffer from severe health conditions or even death. Income disparities and a lack of opportunities are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.

3. Why does inequality matter?

Reducing inequality is, first and foremost, a question of human rights, fairness and social justice. It is also key to eradicating extreme poverty, fostering sustainability, promoting civil progress, reducing conflict and violence, and developing inclusive governance.

4. Is inequality about more than just income and wealth?

Inequality is about much more than income and wealth. The report identifies seven dimensions of inequality: economic, political, social, cultural, environmental, spatial and knowledge-based. It explores how these overlapping inequalities can create and reinforce division, marginalization, exclusion and poverty

Get updated with the latest UPSC Syllabus for the prelims and mains examination at the linked article.

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