Archive for the category “Inequality”

Credit Suisse: Richest 1% own 53% of India’s wealth

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%

Manas Chakravarty, Live Mint Graphic by Prajakta Patil/Mint

The richest 1% of Indians own 53% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Credit Suisse. The richest 5% own 68.6% of the country’s wealth, while the top 10% have 76.3%. At the other end of the pyramid, the poorer half of our countrymen jostles for 4.1% of the nation’s wealth. As Deng Xiaoping put it so pithily, “It is glorious to be rich.”

What’s more, things are getting more and more glorious for the rich. Data from Credit Suisse show that India’s richest 1% owned just 36.8% of the country’s wealth in 2000, while the share of the top 10% was 65.9%. Since then the richest have managed to steadily increase their share of the pie, as the chart shows. This happened during the years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 2000-04, during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government backed by the Left, during the second UPA tenure and now in the first year of the Modi government; the share of the top 1% has now crossed 50%. The colour of the government has been no impediment to the steady rise in the riches of the wealthy.

The chart shows that the difference between the share of the top 1% and that of the top 10% was 29.1 percentage points in 2000, but is down to 23.3 percentage points in 2015. In other words, the top 1% is eating into the share of the next 9%. The richest are growing at the expense of the relatively well-off. Between 2010 and 2015, the share of the poorer half of the population shrank from 5.3% to 4.1%.

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%, while the top 10% bagged 81%. The other 90% got the leftovers.

The share of India’s richest 1% is far ahead than that of top 1% of the US, who own a mere 37.3% of the total US wealth. But India’s finest still have a long way to go before they match Russia, where the top 1% own a stupendous 70.3% of the country’s wealth.

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Download Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2015 

News update

Heatwave to worsen over the years: Study
Times of India
Hyderabad suffers a maximum of five heatwave days in a year. According to experts, this number will go up to as many as 40 days per year in the future. This prediction has been made in a paper titled Climate change scenarios for Hyderabad: Integrating uncertainties and consolidation by Matthias K B Ludeke, Martin Budde, Oleksandr Kit, Diana Reckien of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. (Also read: 61% Rise In Heat-Stroke Deaths Over Decade)

Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study
The Guardian UK
Most of the glaciers in the Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat as temperatures increase with climate change over the next century, according to a group of international researchers. The estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region – site of Mount Everest and many of the world’s tallest peaks – could reduce their volume by 70%-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream, they said.

As Seas Exchange Heat, the Indian Ocean is Becoming a Marine Hothouse
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
Since about 1998, the rate at which the Earth’s surface temperature has been becoming hotter due to anthropogenic global warming has slowed. In this period, the subsurface Pacific Ocean was found to have absorbed a significant amount of heat. As it turns out, the Pacific has been leaking it into the Indian Ocean for the last decade, via currents running along the Indonesian archipelago. A team of researchers from France and the US found that the upper 700 m of the Indian Ocean accounted for more than 70% of the global heat gain in 2003-2012.

The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
David Roberts, Vox.com
There has always been an odd tenor to discussions among climate scientists, policy wonks, and politicians, a passive-aggressive quality, and I think it can be traced to the fact that everyone involved has to dance around the obvious truth, at risk of losing their status and influence. The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

Modi’s push for domestic oil production could aggravate border conflicts
Kabir Taneja, Scroll.in
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at an event in Delhi, set an extremely difficult challenge for the country’s oil and gas companies and the people who devise policies for them. The challenge was to cut down India’s oil imports by 10% from the current figure of 77% before the years 2022, and to bridge this gap with an increase in domestic production. The prime minister’s advertised goal left industry experts confounded particularly since the ground realities of crude oil in India don’t augur well.

Why India is captured by carbon
David Rose, The Guardian UK
India’s leaders are determined to restore economic growth and lift the country’s 1.3 billion citizens out of poverty. But rapid development will require India to double or triple its production of coal – and make it the world’s second largest carbon emitter. Is there any alternative?

Million Renewable-Energy Jobs Predicted for India 2022
Chaitanya Mallapur, IndiaSpend.com
As India–the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases but 127th in terms of per capita emissions–ponders an energy-future balancing growth, jobs and environment, there is encouraging news from a new report. The renewable energy sector, has generated 400,000 jobs till 2014, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The sector could generate a million jobs by 2022, if the government reaches its goal of 100 giga watts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy and 60 GW of wind energy.

Foregoing $1 Billion Payout, Tribe Rejects LNG Project
Common Dreams
Placing the well-being of the Earth above monetary interests, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations tribe in Canadas British Columbia has rejected a $1 billion offer and voted against a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal. Our elders remind us that money is like so much dust that is quickly blown away in the wind, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the Globe and Mail, but the land is forever.

Global social inequality hits new record
World Socialist Web Site
Income inequality in many developed countries has reached an all-time high, according to a report released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report also notes that growth of social inequality has been accompanied by the growth of part-time and contingent labor, particularly for younger workers.

News update

Will Teslas home battery really transform our energy infrastructure?
The Guardian UK
“The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world,” Tesla founder Elon Musk told reporters as he launched the electric car company’s new home power storage battery. “This is actually within the power of humanity to do. It is not impossible.” Electricity storage is the “missing link” in weaning the economy off fossil fuels, said the entrepreneur with characteristic understatement.

Audi has successfully made diesel fuel from carbon dioxide and water
Science Alert
German car manufacturer Audi has reportedly invented a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable energy sources. Audi has now set up a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, operated by clean tech company Sunfire, which will pump out 160 litres of the synthetic diesel every day in the coming months.

India: Solar Will Be the Most Competitive Energy Choice
Tobias Engelmeier
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just published its new “Energy Technology Perspectives” outlining the global trends until 2050 (refer). Here are some of the key findings and the implications they might have for India. (Also read: A New Tariff Policy to Accelerate Indias Renewables Growth)

Overview of Our Energy Modeling Problem
Gail Tverberg
We live in a world with limits, yet our economy needs growth. How can we expect this scenario to play out? My view is that this problem will play out as a fairly near-term financial problem, with low oil prices leading to a fall in oil production. But not everyone comes to this conclusion. What were the views of early researchers? How do my views differ?

As Planet Warms, One in Six Species Face Total Extinction: Study
Common Dreams
One in six of all animal and plant species on Earth could become extinct from impacts related to climate change if human society does not dramatically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, according to new research published in the journal Science. Mark Urban, the lead author of the new study, says its most worrying findings are not set in stone but should come as a warning to humanity and world leaders that action on climate must come soon if the planet is to maintain its existing biodiversity and ability to support life.

Vatican convenes major climate-change meeting
Nature
On 28 April, scientists, religious figures and policymakers will gather at the Vatican to discuss the science of global warming and the danger posed to the world’s poorest people. The meeting comes as Francis prepares an encyclical letter to bishops on climate change for release this summer, ahead of United Nations climate negotiations in December. The Pope’s strong feelings on the matter are apparent: in January he said that people were “mostly” responsible for recent warming and that they have “slapped nature in the face”.

War and Peace and the Steady-State Economy
Herman Daly
Peace is necessary for real progress, including progress toward a steady state economy. While peace should be our priority, might it nevertheless be the case that working toward a steady state economy would further the goal of peace? Might growth be a major cause of war, and the steady state a necessity for eliminating that cause? I think this is so.

Challenging Thomas Piketty: Growth is not the answer to inequality

 Tim Jackson, The Guardian, UK

Those like me who fear that the continued pursuit of economic growth on a finite planet might be neither possible nor desirable face a different kind of challenge, brought home to us by Thomas Piketty’s 700 page tome Capital in the 21st Century. The astonishing popularity of the “rock-star economist” is itself a resounding testament to our concern for inequality.

But his painstaking analysis reveals an uncomfortable story. Piketty places the responsibility for rising inequality firmly and squarely on declining growth rates. Like Benjamin Friedman in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, he implies that only growth can bring civility, in part because an expanding economy allows for a degree of ‘catching up’ by the poorest in society, without much sacrifice or compromise by the rich.

For those of us less than convinced by the mantra of growth at all costs, the idea that only growth can save us from disastrous inequality poses some pretty serious challenges to our endeavour. Serious enough, that two of us – my Canadian colleague professor Peter Victor and I – decided to spend a bit more time analysing Piketty’s arguments.

What we found was fascinating. Piketty’s hypothesis only holds when the growth rate, savings rate and return on capital remain unchanged over long periods of time. When they move about, as they usually do, the economy is always chasing equilibrium but never quite arrives. In some circumstances, Piketty is absolutely right: declining growth can lead to rising inequality. In others, the exact reverse can happen: de-growth can in fact be compatible with greater equality.

This was definitely good news of a kind. Even more striking were the circumstances that made the difference. It turns out that if we are serious about reducing inequality, we must pay attention to the quality – as well as the quantity – of work in our economy. The endless mining of working life in pursuit of productivity gains for the owners of capital is not just detrimental to prosperity, it is inimicable to social justice.

If the debate about inequality is really back on the political agenda, it seems important that we approach it sensibly, without resorting to comforting half-truths. It remains to be seen how that will play out in a political debate mired in trivialities. Read the original article

Read Tim Jacksons paper: Does slow growth increase inequality?
Read another article by Tim Jackson: The dilemma of growth: prosperity v economic expansion

News update

Arctic sea ice extent hits record low for winter maximum
The Guardian, UK
Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for its maximum extent in winter, which scientists said was a result of climate change and abnormal weather patterns. The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) said on Thursday that at its peak the ice covered just over 14.5m sq km of the northern seas. This was 130,000 sq km smaller than the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

India: Machines drive 90% of power in farming, humans’ share drops to 5%
The Times of India
Silently, agriculture in India has gone through a far-reaching change in the past few decades. The share of human power available for carrying out the myriad operations in farming has shrunk to a mere 5% as has that of draught animals, the iconic oxen pulling the plough. More than 90% of the power is now drawn from mechanical sources: tractors and power tillers provide the bulk, 47%; electric motors 27% and diesel engines 16%.

Cheap Oil, Climate Change Mitigation and India
Shoibal Chakravarty, EPW
In this article, our objectives are twofold. We analyse the causes of the 2014 oil crash and its short-term impact
on the global economy. And we will complement this by considering the role that the oil crash might play in the long-term transition of the energy system that will be required to limit climate change. Finally, we discuss the outlook for India.

The Global Coal Boom Is Going Bust: Report
Mike Gaworecki, DeSmog Blog
A new report by CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club provides compelling evidence that the death knell for the global coal boom might very well have rung some time between 2010 and 2012. Based on data CoalSwarm compiled of every coal plant proposed worldwide for the past five years as part of its Global Coal Plant Tracker initiative, the report finds that for every coal plant that came online, plans for two other plants were put on hold or scrapped altogether.

Only Less Will Do
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
Almost nobody likes to hear about the role of scale in our global environmental crisis. That’s because if growth is our problem, then the only real solution is to shrink the economy and reduce population. Population has grown from 4.4 billion in 1980 to 7.1 billion in 2013. Per capita consumption of energy has grown from less than 70 gigajoules to nearly 80 GJ per year. And we see the results: the world’s oceans are dying; species are going extinct at a thousand times the natural rate; and the global climate is careening toward chaos as multiple self-reinforcing feedback processes (including polar melting and methane release) kick into gear.

The Global Economy’s “Impeccable Logic”
Steven Gorelick, Local Futures ISEC Blog
To suggest that conventional economic thinking lacks a moral foundation is not to say that corporate CEOs and IMF economists have no moral or ethical values: most of them probably contribute to charity, feel tender thoughts towards their children and parents, and may even be angered at certain forms of injustice. The question here is whether there’s a moral dimension to the way conventional economics regards wealth inequality.

The Science of Peak Oil
Andrew McKay, Southern Limits
Peak oilers are accused of changing the definition of what peak oil actually means, therefore the entire concept of oil production peaking is rubbish. Far from a valid criticism however, this is actually a scientific virtue. If any scientist dogmatically stuck with a rigid theory as the data repeatedly proved that theory to be incorrect then that would be cause for great concern.

Photo-feature: Climate change in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, before and after
Rémi Chauvin, Guardian UK
In the low-lying Pacific atolls of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati rising sea levels have made every high tide a dangerous event. Regular floods wash through villages causing damage to houses, killing crops and poisoning drinking water. In December 2014, photographer Rémi Chauvin recreated a set of historical images depicting the first impacts of climate change in these countries where no one lives more than a few metres above the sea.

Free Online Course in Environmental Justice (starting 30th March)

About the course

The world faces challenging environmental problems. They are challenging because different people typically contribute differently to environmental change, and because its effects will be felt differently by different people in different places.

Understand environmental injustices

This free online course will help you understand how injustice is a common feature of many environmental problems. Over 10 weeks, we’ll look at deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change and other environmental issues, asking questions such as:

● Can we manage tropical forests to increase timber revenues and carbon stocks, while ensuring that the people who live in them can fulfil their own subsistence needs and vision of a healthy ecosystem?

● How can protected areas strike the right balance between contemporary global interests in species conservation, local interests, the needs of future generations and rights of nature?

We’ll show that sustainable environmental management requires attention to justice – that we need to strike the right balance between the needs, interests, rights and aspirations of various stakeholders today, and those of both nature and future generations.

Visit the Future Learn website for more information and to watch the trailer

Workshop: Conservation, Environmental Protection and Equity (Vizag, 28-29 March)

Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, 28-29 March 2015

A one and a half day workshop titled Ecological Resources Conservation, Environmental Protection and Equity Movements will be held on 2829 March as part of the XXXVIII Indian Social Science Congress to be held in Andhra University, Visakhapatnam between 29 March and 2 April 2015. The focal theme of the congress is Knowledge systems, scientific temper and the Indian people.

Objectives
The object of this workshop is to explore the possibility of finding common ground for the three types of people’s movements to dialogue and work together and to understand the practical linkages between local issues on which movements take place and their global causes.

Participants
The workshop is largely for activists from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and will be conducted in Telugu. The activists should have participated in struggles against inequality or destructive development projects, or participated in conservation movements. Interested activists from other states may attend. The organizers will assist them to have whisper translation done. Read more…

Growth and Inequality in a Carbon-Constrained World

Incrementum ad Absurdum:
Growth and Inequality in a Carbon-Constrained World

David Woodward

The paper seeks to assess the timeframe for eradication of poverty, defined by poverty lines of $1.25 and $5 per person per day at 2005 purchasing power parity, if pre-crisis (1993-2008) patterns of income growth were maintained indefinitely, taking account of the differential performance of China. On the basis of optimistic assumptions, and implicitly assuming an indefinite continuation of potentially important pro-poor shifts in development policies during the baseline period, it finds that eradication will take at least 100 years at $1.25-a-day, and 200 years at $5-a-day. While this could in principle be brought forward by accelerating global growth, global carbon constraints raise serious doubts about the viability of this course, particularly as global GDP would need to exceed $100,000 per capita at $1.25-a-day, and $1m per capita at $5-a-day. The clear implication is that poverty eradication, even at $1.25-a-day, and especially at a poverty line which better reflects the satisfaction of basic needs, can be reconciled with global carbon constraints only by a major increase in the share of the poorest in global economic growth, far beyond what can realistically be achieved by existing instruments of development policy – that is, by effective measures to reduce global inequality.

Download PDF

Oxfam Report: Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

From Oxfam International 

The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam International has warned.

Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More, a research paper published today by Oxfam, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.

Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all (46 percent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 percent share just 5.5 percent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult – that’s 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 percent.

Staggering inequality

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.

“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk. It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.

“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). That figure is now 80 – a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. The wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009-14.

The international agency is calling on government to adopt a seven point plan to tackle inequality:

  1. Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals
  2. Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education
  3. Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards    capital and wealth
  4. Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers
  5. Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal
  6. Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee
  7. Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.

The research paper, which follows the October launch of Oxfam’s global Even It Up campaign, shines a light on the way extreme wealth is passed down the generations and how elite groups mobilise their vast resources to ensure global rules are favourable towards their interests. More than a third of the 1645 billionaires listed by Forbes inherited some or all of their riches.

Twenty percent of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11 percent in the 12 months to March 2014. These sectors spent $550 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571 million in campaign contributions.

Billionaires listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw their collective net worth increase by 47 percent. During 2013, they spent more than $500 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels.

Oxfam is concerned that the lobbying power of these sectors is a major barrier in the way of reforming the global tax system and of ensuring intellectual property rules do not lead to the world’s poorest being denied life saving medicines.

There is increasing evidence from the International Monetary Fund, among others, that extreme inequality is not just bad news for those at the bottom but also damages economic growth.

Download Oxfams new report: Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More

Oxfam Report on Extreme Inequality

From Oxfamindia.org

*In 2014 the richest 85 people on the planet owned as much as the poorest half of humanity.
*The net worth of India’s billionaires is enough to eliminate absolute poverty in the country twice over.
*A few Indians have enough money for several lifetimes while millions struggle for 1 sq meal/day

Even It Up: Its Time To End Extreme Inequality
Click here to download the report

Today, global outrage against this has become raucous—the Occupy movements, Arab Spring, street protests by millions of Brazilians demanding increased spending on basic entitlements reflect the anger. This narrative of obscene inequality based on injustice and denial of basic rights calls for urgent action if we want to live socially-just, inclusive and equal world.

Since the global financial crisis the number of billionaires has doubled. A tax, of just 1.5 percent, on their wealth in that period could have raised enough money to save 23 million lives in the poorest countries.

Oxfam’s latest research has found that if India stopped inequality from rising, they could lift 90 million more people out of extreme poverty by 2019.

Inequality is not inevitable; it is the result of deliberate political and economic choices. Market fundamentalism and the capture of power by elites are two powerful drivers of inequality that go a long way to explaining the extremes we see today.

Recent mass demonstrations from Chile and Brazil to Iceland and Hungary have shown that people around the world are unwilling to stand for unfair tax systems and a lack of quality services. People are concerned that their governments are acting not in their interests, but on behalf of national and international elites. Governments must be forced to listen to the people not the plutocrats. This is why Oxfam is joining a growing movement campaigning for an end to extreme inequality, and asking decision-makers everywhere what they will do to make this a reality.

Unequal numbers

  • The top 1% globally controls 46% of the world’s wealth.

  • Seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago.

  • The richest 85 people on the planet own as much as the poorest half of humanity.

  • These 85 people grew $688m richer each day in 2013-14.

Did you know?

  • In India, billionaires increased from two in the 1990s to 65 in 2014.

  • Net worth of India’s billionaires is enough to eliminate absolute poverty in the country, twice over.

  • More than half of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India is channelled through tax havens.

  • The Indian government spends almost twice as much on its military as on health.

  • Money that can be invested to tackle inequality is diverted by tax breaks & public-private partnerships.

  • If India stops inequality from rising, it can end extreme poverty for 90 million people in just five years.

The India solution

  • If India stops its rising inequality, we can rescue 90 million people from extreme poverty by 2019.

  • Reducing inequality by 36 percent reduction can eliminate extreme poverty and save another 83 million people.

What our government can do

  • Prioritise policies that redistribute money and power.

  • Reject market fundamentalism and oppose the special interests of powerful elite.

  • Provide living wages and decent working conditions.

  • Protect the rights of workers and give them a say in decision-making.

  • Ensure fair taxation, so those most able to pay contribute more.

  • Provide free public services such as health and education to help tackle inequality.

  • Universal child benefits, old-age pensions, unemployment protection etc have an equalising effect.

  • Economic policies must tackle economic and gender inequality together.

    To read more and to download the report, click here.

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