A major news outlet in India has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to introduce a universal basic income, inaccurately attributing the claim to an interview with BIEN cofounder Guy Standing (SOAS, University of London). In a statement to Basic Income News, Standing clarifies that he never made such an assertion.

On January 3, Business Insider published an article (“The Indian government is about to endorse giving all its citizens free money”) in which the journalist claims that the government of India is “set to endorse universal basic income”. The journalist based this assertion on portions of an interview with Guy Standing about India’s Economic Survey, quoting Standing as saying, “the Indian government is coming out with a big report in January. As you can imagine that makes me very excited. It will basically say this is the way forward.” (Adding later: “I don’t expect them to go the full way, because it’s such a dramatic conversion.”)

Other media outlets picked up on this report, including The Independent in the UK, fueling rumors that the Modi government plans to introduce a universal basic income. Significantly, on January 6, the popular Indian newspaper MoneyBhaskar.com published an embellished version of the story (in Hindi) asserting that the government would roll out a UBI. The article, which went viral, claimed its source as Business Insider‘s interview with Standing.  

In comments to Basic Income News, Standing makes clear that these radical claims about the plans of the Indian government are false embellishments of his actual remarks:  

I never said Modi is going to introduce a basic income, and never said that I knew that. What I said to the Business Insider journalist who interviewed me for about half an hour on the phone, mainly on other matters, was that the pilots taking place in Finland and elsewhere were helping to legitimise basic income, that our pilots in India had helped legitimise the topic in India, that the Indian Government was contemplating introducing basic income and was issuing a chapter in its forthcoming Economic Report to be tabled in Parliament at the time of the budget. I am hopeful, I told him, but we will have to wait to see.”

Narendra Modi photo CC BY-SA 4.0 Jasveer10 

Post reviewed and edited by Guy Standing 

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News. Now with The Ecological Citizen.