Mumbai: The fortunes of the 10 richest Indians combined are equal to the gross state domestic product (GSDP) of four states and six government ministries, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data.

The nine richest Indians now own wealth equivalent to bottom 50% of the country. While the top 1% owns 52% of national wealth, the bottom 60% own only 5%, according to the January 2019 Oxfam report on global inequality.

While this concentration of wealth is a global trend, wealth in other countries is generally controlled by 1% of the population, whereas in India it is in the hands of nine individuals or 0.000000075% of India’s population of 1.2 billion.

“Unlike middle-eastern countries and Brazil, which have had historically high levels of inequality but have seen a decline in the share of the top 10% in total income, India has seen a secular rise in the share of income accruing to the top 10% and top 1% of the population,” the Oxfam report said.

The income share of India's top 1% rose from approximately 6% in 1982–1983 to above 10% a decade after, 15% by 2000 and to around 23% by 2014, according to the World Inequality Report 2018.

India now ranks fourth in the list of countries where the top 1% share the highest national income, next only to Brazil, Turkey and Zambia, according to the World Inequality Database, 2017.

Billionaire fortunes in India increased 35% in 2018, or by Rs 2,200 crore a day, while 136 million Indians who make up the poorest 10% continued to remain in debt since 2004, according to Oxfam report.

Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani had a net worth of Rs 3.3 lakh crore, which is 95% of Odisha’s GSDP for 2017-18, according to our analysis, which used data from the Forbes billionaire ranking, the central statistical office and budget 2017-18.

Comparison Of Net Worth With States’ Gross Domestic Product, 2017-18
Billionaire Net Worth (in Rs crore) State GSDP (in Rs crore)
Mukesh Ambani 331525 Odisha 346294
Pallonji Mistry 110041 Himachal Pradesh 109564
Shiv Nadar 102331 Jharkhand 203358
Dilip Shanghvi 88313 Meghalaya 24202

Source: Forbes, Ministry of Statistics

Comparison Of Personal Net Worth with Budgets Of Government Ministries, 2017-18
Billionaire Net Worth (in Rs crore) Ministry Budget Estimate (in Rs crore)
Azim Premji 1,47,189 Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution 1,54,231
Lakshmi Mittal 1,28,264 Ministry of Road Transport and Highways 64,900
Hinduja Brothers 1,26,162 Ministry of Home Affairs 97,187
Godrej family 98126 Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 48,852
Kumar Mangalam Birla 87612 Ministry of Women and Child Development 22,094
Gautam Adani 83407 Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation 20,010

Source: Forbes, Finance Ministry

The wealth of Pallonji Mistry, chairman of the 153-year-old Shapoorji Pallonji Group, is estimated at Rs 1.1 lakh crore, which surpasses the Himachal Pradesh GSDP by Rs 477 crore.

Shiv Nadar, founder of HCL, was ranked sixth on the Forbes list of the country’s richest 100 in 2018, and his net worth of Rs 1.02 lakh crore is half the GSDP of Jharkhand.

Dilip Shanghvi, the founder of Sun Pharmaceuticals, had a net worth of Rs 88,313 crore in 2017-18, which is approximately four times the GSDP of Meghalaya. With a population of 2.9 million, Meghalaya’s GSDP was Rs 24,202 crore for 2017-18, according to government data.

“Governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services such as healthcare and education,” the Oxfam report said.

“While under taxing corporations and the wealthy, they are failing to clamp down on tax dodging.”

Wipro chairman Azim Premji had a net worth of Rs 1.4 lakh crore, which was almost 95% of the Rs 1.5 lakh crore allocated for the consumer affairs, food and public distribution ministry for 2017-18.

Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of world’s largest steel producer ArcelorMittal, had a net worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore, which was twice the budget sanctioned for the ministry of road transport and highways.

The budget sanctioned for the home ministry in 2017-18 was Rs 97,187 crore, which is lower than the Rs 1.2 lakh crore wealth of the Hinduja brothers.

The Godrej family, which manages the Godrej group, has a net worth of Rs 98,126 crore, which was twice the budget for the health ministry.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, had a net worth of Rs 87,612 crore, which is four times the budget for the ministry of women and child development.

The wealth of Gautam Adani, founder of Adani Group, was Rs 83,407 crore, which is four times the funds allocated for the ministry of drinking water and sanitation in 2017-18.

(Jasmin Nihalani, a student of journalism and mass communication, is an intern with IndiaSpend.)

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