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Posts Tagged ‘Forbes

Bharat and its billionaires

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RG_new_India_inequality_panelSeveral times a year, one money-minded organisation or another publishes a ‘rich list’. On this list are the names of the extraordinarily wealthy, the billionaires. Such a list is compiled by Forbes magazine. In this year’s list of billionaires, there are 90 Indians.

Perhaps it is the largest contingent of Indians on this list ever, perhaps their wealth is greater, singly and together, than ever before, perhaps the space below them (the almost-billionaires) is more crowded than ever. What must be of concern to us is the inequality that such a list represents. In the first two, perhaps three, Five Year Plans, cautions were expressed that the income (or wealth) multiple between the farmer and the labourer on the one hand and the entrepreneur or skilled manager on the other should not exceed 1 to 10.

In practice it was quite different, but the differences of the early 1990s – which is when economic liberalisation took hold in India – are microscopic compared to those of today. What’s more, the astronomically large differences in income/wealth of 2015 are actually celebrated as being evidence of India’s economic superpowerdom.

The current per capita national income is 88,533 rupees and it will take, as my disturbing panel of comparisons shows, the combined incomes of 677,713 such earners to equal the wealth of the 90th on the Forbes list of Indian billionaires. Likewise, there are six on the list of 90 with median incomes, and a median income is Rs 11.616 crore, which is equal to the entire Central Government budget outlay for agriculture (and allied activities) for 2015-16.

Written by makanaka

March 5, 2015 at 22:03

The rich list of shame

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The billionaires by country are: USA (442), China (122), Russia (110), Germany (58), India (55), Brazil (46), Turkey (43), Hong Kong (39), United Kingdom (37), Canada (29), Taiwan (26), Indonesia (25), France (24), South Korea (24), Italy (23), Australia (22), Japan (22), Spain (20), Israel (17), Mexico (15), Chile (14), Sweden (14), Switzerland (13), Philippines (11), Malaysia (10), Peru (10), Singapore (10), Thailand (10), Ukraine (10), Austria (8), Saudi Arabia (8), Egypt (7), Denmark (6), Lebanon (6), Netherlands (6), Norway (6), South Africa (6), Argentina (5), Colombia (5), Ireland (5), Kazakhstan (5), Kuwait (5), Czech Republic (4), Poland (4), United Arab Emirates (4), Cyprus (3), Greece (3), Monaco (3), Morocco (3), New Zealand (3), Portugal (3), Venezuela (3), Belgium (2), Nigeria (2), Angola (1), Belize (1), Finland (1), Georgia (1), Guernsey (1), Nepal (1), Romania (1), St. Kitts and Nevis (1), Swaziland (1), Vietnam (1).

The billionaires by country are: USA (442), China (122), Russia (110), Germany (58), India (55), Brazil (46), Turkey (43), Hong Kong (39), United Kingdom (37), Canada (29), Taiwan (26), Indonesia (25), France (24), South Korea (24), Italy (23), Australia (22), Japan (22), Spain (20), Israel (17), Mexico (15), Chile (14), Sweden (14), Switzerland (13), Philippines (11), Malaysia (10), Peru (10), Singapore (10), Thailand (10), Ukraine (10), Austria (8), Saudi Arabia (8), Egypt (7), Denmark (6), Lebanon (6), Netherlands (6), Norway (6), South Africa (6), Argentina (5), Colombia (5), Ireland (5), Kazakhstan (5), Kuwait (5), Czech Republic (4), Poland (4), United Arab Emirates (4), Cyprus (3), Greece (3), Monaco (3), Morocco (3), New Zealand (3), Portugal (3), Venezuela (3), Belgium (2), Nigeria (2), Angola (1), Belize (1), Finland (1), Georgia (1), Guernsey (1), Nepal (1), Romania (1), St. Kitts and Nevis (1), Swaziland (1), Vietnam (1).

Here is the 2013 list of those who are publicly counted as the wealthiest in the world. These 1,426 people (and families) are responsible for a level of inequality no civilisation before ours has seen, they are the land grabbers and the glib champions of ‘reform and austerity’ that have over the last ten years impoverished tens of millions.

They sell guns and oil, and lend money at usurious rates. Their companies make rubbish electronics, pollute streams and rivers, leave toxic smears across the landscape, pay less than minimum wages to their workers, dodge labour law, bribe officials wherever they do business, write rubbish software, run third rate banks that make pawnshops look good.

They are responsible for overfishing, for mountaintop removal, for deforestation, for the GM crop and GM food that they turn into processed snacks that make us sick, to seek false cures in the vulpine hospitals they run so that their pharmaceuticals can be sold and ingested to further add to our cancerous woes. They are responsible for the insanity of over-consumption, their factories are assistants of climate change, their sales armies watch our every move, they want to buy our world though it is not for sale.

Not on this list: the many more whose personal fortunes may range from US$100 million to many billions but whose balance sheets are off limits to the maintainers of wealth indexes. Also not on this list: the thousands upon thousands of politicians great and small, in every single country and territory of the world, whose careers have in one way or another been shaped, influenced or otherwise fashioned by the ambitions of those on this list and those off it, but who have themselves amassed wealth so far beyond the civil servant’s (and public servant’s) wage as to be as good as incalculable, and who are partners with these giddy rich barons in every sordid capitalist enterprise that is dedicated to the aggrandisement of the very few at the grimy and toiling expense of the many.

This is the list that ought to shame our civilisation.

(Get a xlsx file of the full list here.]