The net worth of India’s billionaire community has soared 12-fold during the past 15 years, which is more than enough to eliminate absolute poverty twice over in the country, where income inequity is also on the rise, according to the IMF (International Monetary Fund). “Seven out of ten people in the world today live in countries where inequality has increased over the past three decades,” IMF managing director Christine Lagarde averred, while delivering the Richard Dimbleby Lecture in London recently. “We are all keenly aware that income inequality has been rising in most countries. The richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population,” Lagarde added.
“In the US, inequality is back to where it was before the Great Depression, with the richest 1 percent capturing 95 percent of all income gains since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent got poorer,” she said, rueing that in the past economists have grossly underestimated the importance of this inequality. Observing that over the next three decades, the world’s population will get much larger and older, Lagarde says that in 30 years, there will be about two billion more people on the planet, including three quarters of a billion people over the age of 65. “By 2020, for the first time ever there will be more old people over the age of 65 than children under five,” Lagarde said. “In coming decades, we can expect India to surpass China, and Nigeria to surpass the United States in terms of population. Both China and India will start ageing in the near future, which will create problems on both ends of the demographic spectrum for youthful and greying countries,” she says.