Wealth Gap #1

January 13, 2019
Mahesh Bhat
Comments Off on Wealth Gap #1

In 2014, According to the World inequality report (downloadable here) the share of national income accruing to India’s top 1% of earners was 22%, while the share of the top 10% was around 56%. A report published by Oxfam in 2018 says that  India’s top 1% of the population now holds 73% of the wealth while 67 crore citizens, comprising the country’s poorest half, saw their wealth rise by just 1%.

*Worldwide just 42 people hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorer half of the world’s population, compared with 61 people last year and 380 in 2009.  Oxfam said  it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people. – read the article published in The Guardian here . Oxfam blamed rising inequality on aggressive wage restraint, tax dodging and the squeezing of producers by companies, adding that businesses were too focused on delivering ever-higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives.

We certainly need a new model to reverse the hoarding of wealth. This will only see further environmental degradation, conflicts and increase in disease and world hunger. Economists, billionaires and Institutions have proposed ideas to reduce this wealth gap – please take a look

Here are five people, certainly in the bottom half of India’s population.

February 18, 2015. Zakiruddin aka Raju sells Ice cream in North Goa. He is from a village Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. He became the regular ice cream vendor at The One School Goa (The photography school where I teach). He would promptly materialise at lunch time! He said his family jointly own large tracts of agricultural land – consisting of several acres. But lack of rain and support for agriculture, he had to leave his village. I photographed him at the flea market in Anjuna.

Laxmipriya is from Orissa. She works in a tiny factory that makes auto part components in Southern Bangalore. A couple own the factory and they employ only women, as they are far more reliable and hard working than men. World Inequality Report says that Women form 60 per cent of the lowest paid wage labour .

Berulal is from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. He was selling tea at Betim fishing harbour in Goa. “It’s better to sell tea here than break stones back in Rajasthan” he says

 

Babloo Sahu from Chakradharpur, Jharkand. He was working as a security guard in Panjim, Goa when I photographed him in early 2015. It was a dilapidated building on 18th June Road in Panjim. “My job is to make sure no one entered it because it may fall any time” he said. He didn’t know his age.

I met Susheel during September, 2015 when I was on assignment for an international foundation. I was shooting in Hosur, TN. He is from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and is working in a small auto product manufacturer. He didn’t know his age, “may be 21” he said. He knew few Tamil words like ‘sapaat’ (food), ‘tanni’ (water)..etc.

 

I met Muskan in a small scale industry in the southern part of Bangalore. I was on an assignment for a financial services company that lends to small and medium industries. She was working quietly and as industrial workers do- robotically. I asked her name..I couldn’t hear her answer over the din of machines. I asked again.. She smiled and said ‘Muskan’ – it means smile in Hindi. She is from Kolkata.