Days after Sikkim Democratic Front(SDF) ruling party in Sikkim announced that they will add Universal Basic Income in their manifesto before the Assembly election in 2019 a scheme they eye to implement by 2022, Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that “In 2019 Congress-led government” will provide “Minimum Income Guarantee” adding that “Every poor of the country is going to get Minimum income in his bank account” and that “no one in India will remain without food, no one will remain poor.”
Here we take on the questions surrounding the scheme.
What is Universal Basic Income?
Universal Basic Income is a social security that the government guarantees to its citizens. The pay is supposed to cover the basic cost of living and it is given is given without the recipient having to pass any test or fulfilling any requirement as such. Now there could be one major difference among different UBI plans, while some of these could come up with a economic line such as below poverty line over which a person might not avail benefits, others offer a minimum pay to each and everyone alike.
Which countries have come up with the scheme?
Though there are no countries who have full fledged-ly implemented Universal Basic Pay, in early 2017 Finland went with a trial of giving a pay of 540 Euros(INR 43,879) to 2000 unemployed people. In April the government of the country called off the exercise to look for “alternative welfare scheme”.
Can it be implemented in India?
While the talks of coming up with a Universal Basic Income goes as back as to the 1960s days of the Planning Commission, their is yet to be an extensive research on the possibility of the scheme having any feasibility in India. There are also issues about where would such amount of money come from when according to the Rangarajan Committee 363 million (29.2%) of people in India live Below Poverty Line.
Before thinking about implementing such a scheme on an all India level, it would benefit if the government could like the case with Finland, choose a small set of people; and go for a pilot project. Only after churning out results from such scenario could we have a concrete picture on India’s readiness for Universal Basic Income.