India’s wealth inequality may have grown during pandemic

Mumbai, Sep 26 (IANS) A clear reflection that country’s wealth is restricted to a chosen few has emerged from the the recent ‘All India Debt & Investment Survey’ conducted by the Government.
According to an analysis of the report done by Kotak Institutional Equities, India has a skewed wealth position and low credit penetration.
Accordingly, top 10 per cent of the population has 50 per cent of wealth, top 30 per cent have 80 per cent of wealth while the bottom 50 per cent have less than 10 per cent of the overall wealth suggesting a fairly unequal distribution of wealth.
This may not be completely true in the Covid years, the brokerage said as the government report is based on 2018 surveys.
There is a high chance that Covid has exacerbated this inequality as this report was based on 2018 survey, it said.
As per the report, Of the total households, 37 per cent are cultivators, 28 per cent in rural India but not in direct agriculture, 25 per cent in services and the balance 10 per cent in self-employed segment. Wealth held by individuals is pegged at Rs 510 trillion; 55 per cent in rural India.
Liabilities held by individuals is pegged at Rs 210 trillion; 50 per cent in rural India. Total value of gold held is $170 bn and the top 5 states have 50 per cent of this wealth.
Formal credit represents 67 per cent of rural credit, 90 per cent of urban credit and l70 per cent for India. Formal credit is dominated by banks, RRBs and co-operating banks/societies.
Professional money lenders dominate informal sources of funding in rural and urban India, 35 per cent of rural and 22 per cent of urban India have access to some form of credit.
Survey results may be arguable, but the broader message is more important. As with all surveys, the accuracy of such forecasts is always open to debate as we have top down data on a few subjects like total retail deposits, loans and even investments such as gold or others. This data may not completely be in sync with these surveys. However, this survey is quite detailed and serves as a useful tool to understand the situation in India of a much larger customer segment, Kotak said.
It is quite possible that the quality of information that flows is a lot more accurate in the lower half of population as compared to the upper half. Our savings behavior and nature of consumption of credit has a lot of scope for improvement, it added.

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