The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2016 clearly brings out the stark disparity in wealth within India. The top 1% of the country’s population accounts for 58.4% of the wealth, the highest globally after Russia’s 74.5% and marginally ahead of Thailand’s 58%. India’s wealth grew quickly, with annual growth of wealth per adult in rupees averaging 6% over 2000-16. Thanks to the fall in the value of the rupee, wealth per adult is now at $3,840 from a high of $5,100 in 2010. The problem with India is that 96% of India’s adult population has wealth below $10,000. At the other end are the rich, 0.3% of the population—or 2.4 million people—with individual net worth of over $100,000. Then there are ultra high-net-worth individuals—2,260 adults with wealth of over $50 million, and 1,040 with more than $100 million.
In the mid-range wealth segment ($10,000-100,000), India is under-represented. The country accounts for just 3.1% of those in the mid-range while China accounts for 33%. Personal wealth in India is dominated by property and other real assets that account for 86% of the estimated household assets. However, wealth disparity is not just an Indian phenomenon. At the global level too, 3.5 billion adults with incomes below $10,000 account for just 2.4% of global wealth while 33 million millionaires own 46% of household wealth. It is time the government got into the act to ensure that more people move from the lowest income group to the mid-range. That could drive growth in the future.