Indicating that inequality in India is increasing, a report released on Thursday said that the richest 1% own 53% of the country’s wealth.
It also said that unlike other countries, development in India is not moving across states.
Published by Business and Sustainable Development Commission, a non-profit organisation, the report was released at the two-day UN Global Compact (UNGC) conference in New Delhi on Thursday.
“In terms of wealth inequality, India is second only to Russia, where the richest 1 percent own 53 percent of the country’s wealth,” said the report titled ‘The Better Business, Better World’ at the conference which focusses on how businesses can create solutions and tap new opportunities found within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through bold innovation.
According to Lise Kingo, CEO and executive director of the UNGC, SDGs can open at least $1 trillion of market opportunity for the private sector in India.
“This is out of a total global value of $12 trillion that could be unlocked by sustainable business models in four key areas, food and agriculture, energy, cities and health,” she said.
Kingo added that over 72 million new jobs could be created in India by 2030 by adapting a sustainable business model.
The report says that to reduce the inequality, India needs a ‘different economic model’ – one that is not only low-carbon but also recognizes poverty, inequality and lack of financial access.
“As the second largest food producer in the world, India needs a more focused approach to developing and managing its agricultural sector and agri-based industrialisation,” it says.
Stating that rising inequality leads to slower progress in reducing poverty, the report added that Oxfam has calculated that if India were to stop inequality from rising further, it could end extreme poverty for 90 million people as early as 2019.
The UNGC also called for better infrastructure to improve access to proper medical care for India’s rural population.
“On its current trajectory, India will continue to face enormous challenges in rural development, urban sustainability, national infrastructure, and improved quality of life of its citizens,” the report says.
Its suggestions included creation of low-income food markets, reducing food waste in supply chains, technological aid in smallholder farms, micro-irrigation programs, resource recovery, remote patient monitoring and preventing catastrophic healthcare costs for the poor.