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INDIA: Finance Ministry debating UBI proposal from Economic Survey

Arun Jaitley. Credit to: The Indian Express


India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, has commented on the nation’s most recent Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament on 31st January, 2017. He himself presented it, just before the day on which the Indian budget was presented, and its contents were discussed previously.

Universal basic income (UBI) has been gaining attention in India in the past few months, and the first Indian National Conference dedicated to UBI was held in March of this year. In his recent remarks, however, Jaitley expressed concern that UBI may not yet be feasible, due to “political limitations”. It’s unclear at the moment what might be causing this “political limitation”, although other leading Indian economists, such as Amartya Sen, have also expressed doubts about the implementation of UBI in India. In spite of this cautious declaration, Jaitley has also said, “I’m fully supportive of his idea (UBI) but realizing limitations of Indian politics”.

While some economists such as Sen and Jean Dreze have been skeptical about UBI as a possible social policy option for India, others such as Pranab Bardhan, Sudipto Mundle and Vijay Joshi have recently prescribed UBI for the country.

The Economic Survey, a document prepared by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and his team, holds that UBI is a powerful idea, although not ready for implementation. It also states that UBI can be “an alternative to a plethora of state subsidies for poverty alleviation”, and that it “would cost between 4% and 5% of GDP”. It also discusses some options to phase in a UBI in India. These key points about UBI in Economic Survey can be read in this short summary.


More information at:

Kate McFarland, “India: Government Economic Survey presents case for basic income”, Basic Income News, February 4th 2017

Austin Douillard, “India: First National Conference on Universal Basic Income”, Basic Income News, May 2nd 2017

Kate McFarland, “Amartya Sen: India not ready for a basic income”, Basic Income News, March 6th 2017

PTI, “Finance Ministry discussing bad bank, basic income proposals: Arun Jaitley”, The Indian Express, June 11th 2017

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 140 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

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