Bridging the inequality gap: India among the worst performing countries, says report

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By Suman Singh

  • India fared poorly, ranking 147 out of 157 countries, in terms of its commitment to reducing inequality.
  • Nigeria, Singapore, India and Argentina are among a group of governments that are fueling inequality.
  • The index ranks 157 countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights.

India fared poorly, ranking 147 out of 157 countries, in terms of its commitment to reducing inequality, while Denmark topped the list, a report said on Tuesday.

According to the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index developed by Oxfam and Development Finance International, Nigeria, Singapore, India and Argentina are among a group of governments that are fueling inequality.

The index ranks 157 countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights.

India has performed much worse than nations such as Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Georgia who are enforcing positive reforms to bridge the gap between rich and poor, the report said.

India is placed 151st on the index for public spending for healthcare, education and social protection, 141st for labour rights and wages, and 50th on taxation policies, the report added.

Among the top eight South-Asian countries, India is at the 6th position on public spending and labour rights but tops the list on the progressiveness of tax policy.

“The ranking reflects that a majority of the workforce are employed in the agricultural and unorganised manufacturing sector where collective bargaining is constrained and with little to no enforcement of gender rights for women workers,” the report said.

It shows a lack of commitment on the part of the government to closing the inequality gap, the report said, adding that countries like USA, among the top developed economies also fall behind in diminishing the gap between the rich and poor.

“Inequality slows economic growth, undermines the fight against poverty and increases social tensions.  The World Bank predicts that unless governments tackle inequality then the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 will not be met and almost half a billion people will still be living in extreme poverty,” the CRI index report added.

One of the new indicators used in the report is that on violence against women which reveals that despite the significant gains made in recent months by the #MeToo and other women’s rights movements, less than half of countries have adequate laws on sexual harassment and rape.

“We see babies dying from preventable diseases in countries where healthcare budgets are starved for funding, while billions of dollars owed by the richest are lost to tax dodging. We’ve heard from women living on poverty wages and facing hunger, seeing none of the wealth they create…Governments often act like they’re committed to fighting poverty and tackling inequality—this Index shows us if their actions match their promises,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director said.

Countries such as Argentina and Brazil also score well because of actions taken by previous administrations. However, a 20-year social spending freeze in Brazil and austerity measures in Argentina are putting this progress at risk.

China spends more than twice as much of its budget on health than India, and almost four times as much on welfare spending, showing a much greater commitment to tackle the gap between rich and poor.

Source: CNBCTV18

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