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First trillionaire: In 25 yrs Bill Gates’ wealth to be half of Indian GDP

In the next 25 years Bill Gates’ wealth can be as much as half of what India’s current GDP is, signalling higher levels of “inequality crisis”.

business Updated: Jan 25, 2017 10:33 IST
Sunny Sen
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gestures during a session of the World Economic Forum
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gestures during a session of the World Economic Forum(AFP)

Bill Gates, the co-founder of technology behemoth Microsoft, is on track to become the world’s first trillionaire, according to a report by Oxfam, the England-headquartered confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty.

To put things in perspective, the total gross domestic product of Indonesia is less than a trillion dollar. That means Gates as a trillionaire would have more wealth than what Indonesia produces in goods and services in one year.

India, too, has a skewed proportion of wealthy people. The report quoted that Swiss global financial services company, UBS estimates that in the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs, a tad less than the GDP of India, a country where 1.3 billion people live.

Gates’ fortunes has risen by 50%, or $25 billion since he left Microsoft in 2006, “despite his efforts to donate much of its in charity,” the report said.

Gates runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to improve education, world health and population, and around community giving.

In the 10 years after Gates took up social work, his net worth has grown to $75 billion. The Forbes magazine calculates his net worth at $84 billion.

“If billionaires continue to secure these returns, we could see the world’s first trillionaire in 25 years. In such an environment, if you are already rich you have to try hard not to keep getting a lot richer,” the report elaborated.

The flipside: the huge fortunes in the hand of few is a “clear evidence of inequality crisis”, and is hindering the “fight to end extreme poverty”.

India, too, has a skewed proportion of wealthy people. The report quoted that Swiss global financial services company, UBS estimates that in the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs, a tad less than the GDP of India, a country where 1.3 billion people live.

To keep the inequality under check, French economist Thomas Piketty has recommended a wealth tax. At 1.5%, Oxfam calculated that if all billionaires paid it, collections would be in the tune of $70 billion a year.

The wealth tax can be further ploughed back into improving livelihood. ”Such revenues would be sufficient to get every child into school and provide the nurses, medicines and other health services to save the lives of six million children,” the report added.

Gates, however, has agreed to give away a proportion of his wealth for charitable purposes. “A number of billionaires have agreed to join Bill Gates and give a proportion of their wealth away. While this is welcome, it does not substitute for adequate and fair taxation, a fact that Bill Gates himself has noted.”