The Indian Government could soon be following in Finland’s footstep for guaranteed basic income. According to reports on Business Insider and Bangalore Mirror, Government of India will be soon discussing a proposal of depositing a small monthly salary in their citizen’s bank account.
The idea is globally known as ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’, wherein the government or a public institution gives some amount of money to its residents, as a form of social security. The money is provided to a country’s citizen irrespective of his/her income level and employment status.
According to Professor Guy Standing, Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister of India, will likely be mentioning the scheme in his Economic Survey presentation on January 31. The report is likely to discuss the pros and cons of the guaranteed basic income.
Guy Standing is the co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) group. An economist by profession, Standing is also a professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
The universal income scheme has already been trialled in India, with Guy Standing being closely involved in it. The earliest project was implemented in eight villages of Indore district in Madhya Pradesh.
Launched in 2010, the program provided a basic income to 6000 villagers for 18 months. The men and women of the selected villages were paid Rs 300 per month while children were paid Rs 150 per month.
The results of 8 villages were compared with other similar 12 villages in the Indore district that did not receive any such funds.
The critics of Universal Basic Income argue that such scheme would be expensive and may make the citizens of a country “lazy”. Guy Standing does not believe so.
Guy Standing stated that there was a significant amount of improvement, “particularly in nutrition among the children, healthcare, sanitation, and school attendance and performance”, during the 2010 Madhya Pradesh trial project.
The most striking thing which we had not actually anticipated is that the emancipatory effect was greater than the monetary effect. It enabled people to have a sense of control. They pooled some of the money to pay down their debts; they increased decisions on escaping from debt bondage. The women developed their own capacity to make their own decision about their own lives. The general tenor of all those communities has been remarkably positive.”
Guy Standing although confessed that such implementation at a large scale is highly unlikely in the coming months, “because it is such a dramatic conversion.”
Although here are his recommendations if the Indian Government wants to begin such scheme:
The Indian model should start fairly modestly so that it is not fiscally frightening. To begin with, ₹500 can be given per adult per month, using the Aadhaar system and the government’s current push to go digital would make the roll-out easier.”
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