A total of 122 million people in India lost their jobs in 2020. Out of these, at least 17 million were women, who lost their jobs in April 2020. In fact, there was a significant rise of 15 per cent in women’s unemployment from 18 per cent in pre-lockdown times. The India supplement of the Oxfam report on global income inequality mentions how the spike in women’s unemployment can cause eight per cent loss in India’s GDP, that is, about $218 billion.
About 92 million people lost their jobs in the informal sector, which accounted for 75 per cent of the total jobs lost.
The report aptly titled ‘The Inequality Virus’ highlights how the pandemic widened the gap between the richest and the poorest in India. The global charitable organisation, Oxfam, reveals in the report that Indian billionaires saw their wealth increasing by 35 per cent during the lockdown. In fact, the billionaires have experienced a spike in wealth to over $422 billion in the past decade. The increase in wealth of the top 11 Indian billionaires during the pandemic is reportedly enough to keep the schemes under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) going for a whole decade.
The report mentions that 100 billionaires in India saw their wealth increasing by Rs 12.98 lakh crore since March 2020. The total amount, if distributed amongst the 138 million poorest in the country, could give each one of them over Rs 94,000!