Schemes in India sound ambitious but don’t deliver: Oxfam chief Winnie Byanyima

19 February 2019
Andrew Kelly/REUTERS
Andrew Kelly/REUTERS

On 21 January this year, Oxfam International, a charitable organisation that works towards eradicating poverty, released its annual report on inequality, titled “Private Wealth, Public Good.” The report was released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It highlighted that, in recent years, the wealth of the richest had increased substantially across the world, while the poorest continued to struggle. It attributed this crisis to governments not imposing enough taxes on the rich while underfunding poverty-alleviating public services such as healthcare and education. Oxfam found that in India, even though the wealth of the top one percent of its earners increased by 39 percent in 2018, the wealth of the poorest in the country increased by just 3 percent.

Shortly after Oxfam released the report, Rohit Inani, a journalist based in Delhi, interviewed its executive director, Winnie Byanyima. Formerly a politician in Uganda, Byanyima has led Oxfam since May 2013. She discussed Oxfam’s methodology, the state of inequality in India and whether the world’s economic model is designed to promote inequality. “Over the last two–three decades, the rich have negotiated themselves out of paying tax on their wealth,” Byanyima said. “The problem is governments giving a pass to the rich … the governments are fuelling [inequality] by not taxing wealth enough.”

Rohit Inani is a journalist based in Delhi. He has contributed to TIME, The Nation and Himal Southasian, among other publications.

Keywords: Oxfam inequality poverty World Economic Forum universal basic income Winnie Byanyima