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 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 fuelling inequality. The index ranks 157 countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights. As per the report, countries such as South Korea, Namibia and Uruguay are taking strong steps to reduce inequality. However, countries like India and Nigeria did very badly. Among rich countries, USA showed a lack of commitment towards closing the inequality gap.
In terms of its ranking across specific pillars this year, India was 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. Regionally, India ranks sixth among the eight South Asian nations. On public spending and on labour rights it ranks sixth, but India is placed on the top in terms of progressiveness of tax policy. Other countries in the top ten include Germany (2nd), Finland (3rd), Austria (4th), Norway (5th), Belgium (6th), Sweden (7th), France (8th), Iceland (9th) and Luxembourg (10th).Among the emerging economies, China was ranked 81st on the list, Brazil 39th and Russia 50th.
Regarding China, the report said it “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”. “What’s most striking is how clearly the index shows us that combatting inequality isn’t about being the wealthiest country or the one of the biggest economy. It’s about having the political will to pass and put into practice the policies that will narrow the gap between the ultra-rich and the poor,” Matthew Martin, Development Finance International’s director, said.The report noted that inequality slows economic growth, undermines the fight against poverty and increases social tensions.
“Simply put, inequality traps people in poverty. 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,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director, said.