DELHI (Diya TV) – Recent findings from the World Inequality Lab reveal that the concentration of wealth among India’s top 1% has reached its highest level in over sixty years, surpassing even countries like Brazil and the United States.

Since India’s market liberalization in 1992, the number of billionaires in the country has surged dramatically. Dubbed the ‘Billionaire Raj’ by the report’s authors, this phenomenon underscores a level of inequality even greater than during the British colonial era.

By the close of 2023, India’s wealthiest individuals possessed a staggering 40.1% of the nation’s wealth, the highest recorded since 1961. Moreover, their share of the total income stood at 22.6%, the highest since 1922, according to the study authored by Nitin Kumar Bharti and Thomas Piketty, among others.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mandate for development and economic reforms upon his election in 2014, critics argue that his tenure has seen a widening gap between the rich and rural poor, even as India’s economy experienced robust growth of 8.4% in the final quarter of 2023.

The main opposition party, Congress, has raised concerns about the government’s proximity to billionaires, particularly in light of impending national polls starting from April 16.

Factors such as inadequate education have contributed to trapping individuals in low-paying jobs, further exacerbating income inequality among the bottom 50% and middle 40% of Indians, as highlighted by the World Inequality Lab.

Data from Forbes billionaire rankings underscore the rapid rise in India’s billionaire population, from just one individual in 1991 to a staggering 162 in 2022. Notably, India is home to Asia’s two wealthiest individuals, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Gautam Adani of the Adani Group.

The study also reveals stark disparities in wealth distribution, with the top 1% of India’s 92 million adults owning an average of 54 million rupees ($873,000) each, while the 10,000 wealthiest individuals possess an average wealth of 22.6 billion rupees, a staggering 16,763 times higher than the country’s average.

Efforts such as subsidized grain distribution, investments in education and healthcare, and direct cash transfers through rural job schemes have been initiated by the Indian government to mitigate income inequality, according to the country’s chief economic adviser.