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Reassessing Distributive Justice Amidst Soaring Global Inequality

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  • Published
    20th Jan, 2024


As the annual World Economic Forum commenced in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam's latest report laid bare the escalating global wealth gap.

Key Points

  • Significant disparity between the fortunes of the top five billionaires and the increasing impoverishment of 5 billion people worldwide.
  • In the Indian context, while there's a noteworthy reduction in multidimensional poverty, the persistent income inequality prompts a reevaluation of distributive justice for comprehensive human development.

Global Wealth Disparities:

  • Oxfam's report underscores a disconcerting reality: the wealth of the world's five richest individuals, including Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, and Elon Musk, has more than doubled since 2020, reaching a staggering $869 billion.
  • Simultaneously, the report projects that the world will witness its first trillionaire within the next decade, yet global poverty eradication remains a distant goal—estimated to take 229 more years.

Positive Trends in India:

  • In India, the Niti Aayog offers a glimmer of positive news, reporting a reduction in multidimensional poverty to 11.3% in 2022-23, a significant drop from over 29% a decade ago.
  • Approximately 24.8 crore people are estimated to have escaped multidimensional poverty in the past nine years.
  • However, discrepancies arise due to varied definitions of poverty, with Niti Aayog's approach considering a spectrum of 12 indicators, including nutrition, child mortality, education, and access to essential services.

Need for Distributive Justice:

  • While progress is evident in addressing basic needs, the paradox emerges as income inequality escalates.
  • The Asia-Pacific Development Report 2024 highlights India's remarkable per capita income growth from $440 to $2,400 between 2000 and 2022, but it also signals a surge in wealth disparity.
  • With the top tenth of the population claiming 57% of the national income and the bottom half receiving a mere 13%, India stands out as one of the most unequal income distributors.

Call for Comprehensive Human Development:

  • The evolving landscape demands a shift from merely satisfying basic needs to ensuring all-round human development.
  • 'Capitalism with a human face' necessitates reevaluating wealth distribution mechanisms.
  • This could involve revisiting 'soft' taxation policies favoring the wealthy and curbing corporate power by dismantling monopolies.

What is Distributive Justice:

  • Distributive justice, refers to the fair allocation of resources and opportunities within a society.
  • It involves addressing inequalities in income and wealth distribution, ensuring that benefits and burdens are distributed equitably.
  • In the face of rising global and national inequality, reexamining distributive justice becomes imperative for fostering inclusive and sustainable human development.

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