Oxfam Report
India's top 1% owned more than 40.5% of its total wealth in 2021, according to a new report by Oxfam.

In 2022, the number of billionaires in the country increased to 166 from 102 in 2020, the report said.
Meanwhile, it added that the poor in India "are unable to afford even basic necessities to survive".

The charity called on India's finance minister to levy a wealth tax on the ultra rich to tackle this "obscene" inequality.

The report - Survival of The Richest - was released as the World Economic Forum began in Davos, Switzerland.

The report highlighted the large disparity in wealth distribution in India, saying that more than 40% of the wealth created in the country from 2012 to 2021 had gone to just 1% of the population while only 3% had trickled down to the bottom 50%.

In 2022, the wealth of India's richest man Gautam Adani increased by 46%, while the combined wealth of India's 100 richest had touched $660 bn.

In 2022, Mr Adani was ranked the second richest person in the world on the Bloomberg's wealth index. He also topped the list of people whose wealth witnessed the maximum rise globally during the year.

Meanwhile, the country's poor and middle class were taxed more than the rich, Oxfam said.

Approximately 64% of the total goods and services tax (GST) in the country came from the bottom 50% of the population, while only 4% came from the top 10%, the report said.

"India is unfortunately on a fast track to becoming a country only for the rich," Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said. "The country's marginalised - Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, women and informal sector workers are continuing to suffer in a system which ensures the survival of the richest."

The rich, currently, benefited from reduced corporate taxes, tax exemptions and other incentives, the report added.
Meryl Sebastian, Kochi

Paresh Chattopadhyay
The stories of excesses in Soviet Russia had always created fissures within international communist movement. In the post-world war period it remained no longer hidden that all was not well in Stalin's Russia. Communist movement suffered from a vertical split due to the schism, pro-Stalinism - anti-Stalinism. In addition to Gulag stories China added its own woes created by Korean War, famines, Cultural Revolution. The whole world of communist movement crumbled down when in August 1991 hardliners organised an impotent anti-people coup d'etat in Moscow.

In the intellectual world the baby was thrown out along with the bathwater. The criticism of Stalin and Mao went so far that Marx himself was held suspect in the genocides under the leaders.

Dr Paresh Chattopadhyay was one of the very few who brought back communists’ interest in Marx in the post- 90s.

The Leninists ( in fact Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao all) and the anti-communists in tow, in their petty bourgeois understanding of Marx see the philosophical, political, economic and social categories as truncated, independent moments, dichotomised from others.

As a result any defence or criticism of Leninism in Russia or China saw political and economic issues as separate problems, as if the Bolshevik model was right, only some unintended consequences led to the excesses and subsequent failure.

Dr Paresh Chattopadhyay, in the spirit of Marx, saw the categories as interdependent and found the failures of Soviet model within the philosophical conception of Leninist socialism which is a huge deviation from Marx's idea of 'Association of free and equal individuals'. The Leninist departure from Marx started early in their understanding of Capital and Commodity Production, Socialism and workers' struggle to break free from the chains of wage slavery. Marxists took the words from Marx and made them stand on their heads instead of grasping the revolutionary meaning Marx added into them.

Dr Paresh Chattopadhyay is no more, but his lasting contribution to the revolutionary ideas will guide communist revolutionaries for a long time to understand Marx, to understand the failures of Russian and Chinese experiments and Leninism in general.
Arka Sen, Kolkata

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Vol 55, No. 34, Feb 19 - 25, 2023