Today’s talk in Political Circles across the country is Universal Basic Income or UBI. This is a minimum income for every poor person in India. Universal Basic Income guarantees a threshold amount (fixed minimum amount) to every citizen of India, whether he/she works or not. Can this work or is it just a political gimmick?
The idea of Universal Basic Income originated in the so-called Utopian Socialists. The opposition party has promised UBI if it comes to power. The Government has dismissed UBI as fool’s talk with the question being, where will the money come from?
There is speculation that the Modi Government might introduce Universal Basic Income in the last pre-election budget. However, this might still not be a possibility.
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Under UBI, the Government will give an annual lump sum amount to every poor rural household in India. This could alleviate poverty as this money is spent to bring the poor out of poverty. The idea is an annual transfer of Rs 1,500 a month to eligible households.
The transfer could be made on the lines of Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT, where bank accounts are linked to Aadhaar and money is transferred to beneficiary’s bank accounts. This eliminates pilferage or the money being diverted. The richest 25% households would be excluded.
Many people believe that if the Government dishes out the universal basic income, it could win the 2019 elections. This would counter Congress farm loan waivers. The BJP recently lost elections in 3 States because Congress promised loan waivers.
Let’s take a look at a few cons of UBI:
A few pros of UBI:
Finland launched a trial version of UBI in 2017, where 2,000 unemployed people would receive 560 Euros each month for two years. The Finnish Government hopes this reduces bureaucracy in the existing welfare system. Finland has decided to end its experiment with UBI in 2 years. Experiments on universal basic income are underway in Kenya, Iran, Canada, Nederlands and USA.
UBI is all about give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and he will eat for a lifetime. But, there must be fish in the river….
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