India’s health budget fourth lowest in world: Oxfam

Reducing Inequality Index

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In News:

  • The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020 was recently released.
  • This is the third edition of the report.

About: Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2020

  • The CRI Index is developed and delivered through a partnership between Development Finance International and Oxfam International, with inputs from independent experts.
  • The index doesn’t aim to measure inequality, instead it focuses on what each government is doing to fight inequality.
  • It shows how governments are performing in relation to each other, and how each country is improving (or not) in fighting inequality.
  • The 2020 index ranks 158 governments on their policies on public services, tax and workers’ rights, the three crucial areas to reduce inequality.

Reducing Inequality Index
Reducing Inequality Index

Global Highlights:

  • The index highlights that no country in the world was doing enough to fight inequality prior to the pandemic.
  • It shows that only 26 out of 158 countries were spending a recommended 15% of their budgets on health.
  • Only a third of the global workforce had adequate social protection and in 103 countries at least one in three workers lacked basic labor rights and protections, like sick pay, when the virus struck.
  • As a result, many have faced death and destitution (extreme poverty), and inequality is increasing significantly. 
  • Globally, low-income nations have been more tax-progressive. This means that they are collecting closer to the amount they should be collecting.
  • At the bottom of the public services pillar ranking, South Asian countries in particular are doing too little to fight inequality.

Countries at the top:
  • The top 10 countries in the index in descending order are Norway (1st), Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Canada, France, New Zealand, Austria and Sweden.
  • Most of the countries near the top of the index are OECD countries.
  • With higher gross domestic products (GDP), they have much more scope to raise tax revenues because they have more citizens and corporations with higher incomes.
  • Thus, they have greater scope to spend those revenues on public services and social protection.
  • However, even the top-performing countries can do much more than what they are doing currently.
Countries at the bottom:
  • At the bottom of the Index is South Sudan, which is new to the index and comes close to last on all three pillars.
  • The other countries at the bottom are Nigeria, Bahrain, Chad and Liberia.

Highlights on India:

  • India spent less than 4% of its budget on health and was ranked 155th on the health spending, the fourth lowest in the world.
  • Just half of its population have access to even the most essential health services, and more than 70% of health spending is being met by people themselves, one of the highest levels in the world.
  • Only about 10% of the workforce in India is formal, with safe working conditions and social security.
  • Most workers earn less than half of the minimum wage and 71% do not have any written job contract and 54% do not get paid leave.
  • India has improved its tax rankings — going from 91st in 2017 to 50th in 2018 (when the last report was published) and 19th now.
  • All of this, together, put India at the 129th position out of 158 countries, an improvement on the 147th rank (out of 157) last time in 2018 and close to the 132nd rank (out of 152) it got in 2017.
Report’s general recommendations:
  • Governments must adopt strong anti-inequality policies on public services, tax and labour rights, to significantly reduce the gap between rich and poor.
  • Governments, international institutions and other stakeholders should work together to rapidly improve data on inequality and related policies, and to accurately and regularly monitor progress in reducing inequality.
  • The most urgent policy measures include a global commitment and funding to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines will be free to all countries.

About: Oxfam

  • Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organizations founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International.
  • It is a part of a global movement for change, and works to “build a future free from the injustice of poverty“.
  • It believes that poverty and powerlessness are avoidable and can be eradicated by human action and political will.
  • In 2000, Oxfam adopted the rights-based approach as the framework for all the work of the Confederation and its partners.
  • In doing so, it recognizes the universality of human rights and has adopted the following aims to express these rights in practical terms:
    • The right to a sustainable livelihood
    • The right to basic social services
    • The right to life and security
    • The right to be heard
    • The right to an identity

About: Development Finance International

  • Development Finance International is a non-profit capacity-building, advocacy, advisory and research group.
  • It works with more than 50 governments, international institutions and civil society organisations worldwide to help development financing fight poverty and inequality.

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